Google Play Loaded with Fraudulent Apps

Friday, April 5, 2013 @ 06:04 PM gHale

When it comes to apps on Google Play, buyer beware because a widespread fraud ring is going strong by placing a large amount of faux apps on the Android marketplace, researchers said.

As many as 200 applications are available on the marketplace, which utilizes a “one click” technique to trick users, said researchers at Symantec. The applications, which are chiefly Japanese-language, present themselves as adult content.

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Upon attempting to access the content, users get pay walls which ask them to purchase premium services.

“People typically come across these scam sites by searching for things that they are interested in or by clicking on links contained in spam messages,” Symantec said.

“We also witnessed the advent of one-click fraud Android apps just over a year ago and those apps can now be found on Google Play.”

The company said the attacks may have been going on for months and may involve as many as 50 different developers. While Google deleted some of the applications from the market, the company said as many as 5,000 downloads of the fraudulent applications already occurred.

“As far as victims go, we are not aware of how many of these users actually paid money to the scammers; the ‘service’ costs about 99,000 yen (approximately US$1,000),” Symantec said.

“It certainly must be worth the time and effort for the scammers as they have continued doing business for over two months.”

Due to its large market share and relatively open ecosystem, Android has emerged as a favorite target for malware writers. In one report security researchers estimated Android accounted for 80 percent of all mobile malware samples.

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