November 30, 2021

Beyond Going Long

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Avast has detected fraudulent apps in the Play Store.  Hundreds of Slovaks also lost money

Avast has detected fraudulent apps in the Play Store. Hundreds of Slovaks also lost money

Criminals paid for ads on Facebook, Instagram and TikToku for their fraud.

  • Avast has detected more than 150 fraudulent applications.
  • They promised attractive jobs, and instead deprived victims of tens of euros a month.
  • The apps have already been removed from the Play Store, but they may still be available from unknown sources on the Internet.

avast is official guard In front of 150+ apps that were on the Play Store a few days ago. The software used promised various functions from a dedicated keyboard to filters, but in reality it only activated premium SMS services with high fees.

The attack was dubbed UltimaSMS and in cooperation with Google, fraudulent apps have already been detected and removed from the Play Store. In total, according to the analytical company Sensor Tower, it has been downloaded more than 10 million times, but Avast has determined that the number of affected Slovaks is less than 500. On the contrary, the Czechs downloaded fraudulent applications about 1,600 times.

The full list of fraudulent applications can be found published on the github platform. We recommend looking at it in detail and comparing if you do not have any of the mentioned apps installed on your phone. If you find a match, we recommend that you remove it from your device and contact your carrier to request the cancellation of premium SMS services.

It is said that the function opens only after entering the phone number

The apps were distributed by criminals through advertisements on the social networks Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. When the victim discovered the promised features of the program and downloaded the fraudulent application, it determined the language of communication with the user, based on the data obtained.

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Some fraudulent applications. The full list can be found on GitHube.

Zdroj: Avast, GitHub

However, once the app started, it asked for a phone number and sometimes an email address. She justified this by saying that only after filling in the required data will it provide the originally promised jobs. As mentioned, the attackers lured victims into camera filters, mobile games, call blockers, custom keyboards, various multimedia content editors, and QR code scanners.

However, for the phone number entered, the app simply activated the subscription to premium SMS messages worth up to $40 per month, in terms of around €34. No promised features were unlocked after that: the apps either offered additional subscriptions or simply stopped working.

It is important to add that not all, but at least some applications have informed the user to activate SMS marked with lowercase letters under the appropriate button.

Developer profiles have been redesigned

Experts also pointed out other important points in these applications. According to them, developer profiles and descriptions of individual applications, at first glance, were relatively detailed and linked with attractive images. They also have high average ratings on the Play Store.

However, they draw attention to the large number of negative reviews. Although it didn’t make much of an impact on the average rating, based on specific reviews, it was clear in many cases that these were indeed fraudulent apps.

Therefore, Avast researchers highly recommend that you check the reviews of the apps you plan to install on your phone. They also warn against entering personal information into unknown applications and terms written in lowercase. And while fraudulent apps should not be on the Play Store, they may still be available for download from the Internet. So we recommend that you avoid installing apps from unknown sources.

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(1 EUR = 1,1630 USD)