The fake apps try swindling users through multiple ads or in-app upgrades.
Google had to remove eight fake mobile applications from the Play Store. The apps pose as crypto cloud-mining apps, but they lure victims into costly subscriptions and other scam activities.
Although removed, Trend Micro researchers noted that multiple suspicious apps pop up upon a ‘cloud mining’ keyword search on Google Play.
The bogus Android apps target users interested to earn digital assets. Users could earn by investing in cloud-mining operations. Analysts discovered that the eight apps removed incorporated two malware: FakeMinerAd and FakeMinerPay.
The malicious crypto apps trick victims into watching ads, expensive subscription services, $15 being the average fee per month. Moreover, they would pay for magnified mining activities without any returns. That is according to Cifer Fang, a Trend Micro researcher who reported on Wednesday.
The fake ads were:
- BitFunds: Cryptocurrency Cloud Mining
- Bitcoin Miner: Cloud Mining
- Bitcoin: Mining Cloud Wallet
- Crypto Holic: BTC Cloud Mining
- Daily BTC Rewards: Cloud Mining System
- Bitcoin 2021
- MineBit Pro: BTC miner and Cryptocurrency Cloud Mining
- Ethereum: Pool Mining Cloud
Fang revealed that some of the apps, like BitFunds, had over 100,000 downloads. Meanwhile, some of the fake apps went on to tell users to buy them. Users had to pay $12.99 to download Crypto Holic, while Daily BTC Rewards cost $5.99.
Trend Micro discovered that two of the mining apps had multiple ads, targeting users’ clicks. Fang stated that the scammers directed users to click the ads to prove that they aren’t robots. Users had to watch video ads to start their mining activities. Also, the fraudsters lured users to watch in-app ads to maximize mining speed.
Also, the fake apps required users to invite their friends. However, the researchers discovered that the victims didn’t earn returns.
Spotting Fake Crypto Miners
Trend Micro suggests these steps to avoid fake crypto-mining apps:
- Analyze the reviews carefully – Fake apps might still have many 5-star reviews. Concentrate on the 1-star ratings.
- Try entering a wrong or invalid crypto address. Fake apps do not check legit wallets.
- Restart your phone or the app as the mining proceeds. You are dealing with a fake app, the ‘coin counter’ will reset to 0 (zero).
- Confirm whether there are withdrawal charges. Legit crypto transfers involve fees. Be cautious when interacting with free withdrawals.
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