Symantec keeps an eye on lots of fraudulent activity online, and they recently published a report on scam apps on Google Play. Apparently August was a busy month for scam app developers. Nothing else to do in the heat, perhaps?
According to the report, the apps are short-lived, often being released in the afternoon and discovered and taken down by the next morning. However, some of the are lucky enough to survive notice over a weekend.
Here’s the daily publication numbers for the scam apps in August.
I couldn’t help but notice the huge jump that coincided with my birthday! Not what I had hoped for as a present.
What’s the scam? According to Symantec, the most successful recent variant:
include numerous links to various online adult-related sites, but one or two links actually lead to fraudulent sites that attempt to con people into paying a fee without properly signing them up for the paid service. The fee to watch adult videos on these sites is typically around US$1,000, which is extremely expensive compared to the average cost of a legitimate service.
While the number of downloads is relatively small, between 8,500 and 10,000 (for about 1,000 apps) in August, they do cause harm, and consumers should protect themselves. Be careful when downloading, especially brand new apps that have been up for less than a day. I wouldn’t worry about apps from large brands–those are generally safe, but small niche apps, like these Japanese one-click fraud apps, are worth paying attention to. Check reviews and wait a few days before downloading a new app. Application of common sense should keep you safe.