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Today I received a video in WhatsApp from an unknown sender (a telephone number is shown but not saved to my contact list). The movie showing Homer Simpson as a thumbnail was sent with the message "Remember that times xD".

There are a few remarkable things:

  • English is not my native language (and thus generally not the one of my contacts)
  • the profile picture shows a couple (male and female) who are friends of me (!!!)
  • the guy is in my contact list
  • the gal is not
  • while I would expect a message of the man, I would be surprised about a message of her
  • I did not yet download the video of course

Is it a scam? How does it work? How should I react?

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It may be a scam and/or an attempt to infect your smartphone with malware.

The profile picture may have been copied from your friend's Facebook profile, or may be fake. Either way, it doesn't prove that the sender is your friend.

The video may not be a video (link to malicious website), or may be a video someone wants you to watch in order to increase views and thus make money, or may be a child pornography video (which could get you in trouble). The possibilities are endless.

I strongly suggest you to not download or watch the video and to not reply.

If you think there's a small chance it may actually be your friend using another phone number, call him/her and ask about the video. If he/she denies, that's the end of it. If he/she confirms, you could watch the video (if you really trust this friend, and don't think he may be part of a scam or hacking attempt).

Keep in mind that, if you two are friends, he/she shouldn't get offended if you don't watch the video. In fact, you could use this occasion to explain your friend why it's not wise to open suspicious links, both on Whatsapp and on emails.

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