WhatsApp logo is displayed on a smartphone. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: UAE residents are being targeted by a hoax that threatens to charge them if they fail to forward a message to their friends.

The viral message, which purportedly came from CEO “Jim Balsamic,” advised the public that, due to congestion of users, the messaging tool will stop working by 6pm tomorrow and that users will have to pay to open it.

Recipients were also encouraged to forward the message to all their friends on their contact list to confirm they're a legitimate user, otherwise. their accounts will be deactivated or they will have to pay a fee.

“If you do not send this message to all your contacts, WhatsApp will then start to charge you. Your account will remain inactive with the consequence of losing all your contacts,” the message reads.

The message started circulating shortly after reports that the messaging app stopped working for millions of users around the world during New Year’s Eve, but tech experts advised the public to ignore it.

Dubai-based WhatsApp users said they have just received the message this week. A close investigation would reveal that the same note has been rattling around the popular messaging tool for sometime now.

Last November, techadvisor.co.uk reported that the message is the latest charging scam to show up recently.

“This is absolutely not true, and under no circumstances should you fall for it,” the website said. “If you’re still not convinced, just think about it: you are sending a message to everyone on your contact list to help solve congestion? WhatsApp is also based on phone numbers, not user names.”

A software engineer in Dubai also advised users not to fall for the message. “WhatsApp belongs to Facebook. Do you think they would send a message in half-baked English? It looks like an old email chain," the source told Gulf News.

WhatsApp has advised users that they may be the target of a scam if any of the following describes a message they receive:

1. The sender claims to be affiliated with WhatsApp

2. The message content includes instructions to forward the message.

3. The message claims you can avoid punishment, like account suspension, if you forward the message.

4. The message content includes a reward or gift from WhatsApp or another person.

“We always advise you to block the sender, disregard the message and delete it,” WhatsApp said.