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:
— Policía Nacional (@policia) July 29, 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.