Fact Check

WhatsApp 'Martinelli' Phone Virus Warning

One of several similar WhatsApp malware hoaxes warns that a "Martinelli" video could "hack" your phone.

Published April 17, 2018

 (Ink Drop / Shutterstock.com)
Image courtesy of Ink Drop / Shutterstock.com
A WhatsApp video known as "Martinelli" spreads malware that irreparably hacks your cell phone.

A hoax that has been making the online rounds on WhatsApp since at least mid-2017 warns users of the encrypted messaging service that they are supposedly vulnerable to a piece of malicious software being distributed via a video called "Martinelli." The malware is said to be capable of hacking into a user's cell phone in under 10 seconds, wreaking irreparable damage:

Warning from An Garda. An IT expert has advised that a video comes out tomorrow from WhatsApp called martinelli do not open it , it hacks your phone and nothing will fix it. Spread the word

Tomorrow comes a video for whatsapp is called martinelli do not open it hacks the phone in 10 seconds and you can not stop in any way pass the data to yours and friends

This warning is a hoax, one that appears to have originated in a Spanish-language version sometime in 2017. Spain's Policía Nacional issued a tweet debunking it back at the end of July 2017:

This warning is quite similar to another WhatsApp-specific phone hacking hoax known as "Popcorn Carnival," which also originated as a Spanish-language message around the same time.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.