Beware of new WhatsApp scam offering “free internet without Wi-Fi”

 WhatsApp Messaging App Scam - Edem Boni

There is a rapid increase in scams spreading through the messaging app WhatsApp, in recent times, there have been deceptive campaigns luring users of the messaging App into becoming victims. The latest of these scam is a message in circulation promising WhatsApp users a free internet service, without needing to use Wi-Fi.
Notwithstanding this being a complete nonsense and a fluke from a technical point of view, the offer nevertheless seems appealing to WhatsApp users unaware of the realities.
The victims are told that they can still their WhatsApp messaging app without needing WiFi or mobile data from the telecom/internet providers. This lucrative offer as usual is being distributed as a random WhatsApp message and shared among individuals and groups on the popular messaging app and often comes from one of your contacts who recommend the service. The message contains a link that is supposed to guide the victim to the page that is giving away such an excellent offer of free internet.
However, as it normally happens with these scams, Once the link is clicked, the page will detect the device’s language and show the following images, with the intention of making the scheme credible and leading the victim to share the content with at least 13 people. This is obviously I an attempt to keep the scam spreading among WhatsApp users.

After the victims had shared the link with 13 others on WhatsApp, the expectation is that they receive free internet however, they only get redirected to other sites which ask for subscription or offer costly SMS services including third party apps. No matter what service the victim chooses to utilise, the victim won’t ever get the free internet package as promised.
WhatsApp Scam -Edem Boni and Elsabeth Boni
 WhatsApp Scam Source: We Live Security (Eset)

The image on the right is a screenshot of the result of clicking on the link. you can see some comments from people who supposedly tried the service, stating that it works. This is a ruse. Clearly these messages and the profiles associated with them are fake – they aren’t on Facebook at all, so this is all part of the fraud.
As you can see in the image below, the scam can also be seen in Spanish (you will be automatically redirected to their default language depending on their browser settings). All of this goes on without you even noticing:
WhatsApp Scam -Edem Boni and Elizabeth Boni
 WhatsApp Scam Source: We Live Security (Eset)

This behaviour is widely used nowadays, mostly because it allows cyber criminals to create different scams using the same pattern, in order to make them credible for users in multiple countries. This way, they don’t depend on a single country or language and they can target different nationalities all at once.

What happens after you share?

Having overcome the barrier of sharing, unwary users looking for free internet end up on sites where different actions may occur, ranging from subscription to premium and costly SMS services, to installation of third party apps, always with the goal of granting an economic return to the scammer.
Unfortunately, victims will only see offers, but no trace of free internet.

Tips to avoid falling in these campaigns

We have to keep in mind that education and security solutions are still the main tools users need to be safe online. Awareness about these scams should become viral faster than the scams themselves; however, we keep seeing an alarming rate of propagation.

If you know a victim, you can help by alerting their contacts to avoid hitting sour note. In case you want to report the fraud, you can flag it in your browser as is usually done in phishing campaigns.
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