Although bitcoin and cryptocurrency prices have been falling for some time now, there is still a sense of intrigue about crypto coins. Many people are seriously evaluating whether these coins can be used to invest some money and hoping that the valuations will rise. If you follow your investment advice on Twitter, #BuyTheDip or #HODL would be two things that you’d see frequently. Before you give out your money in exchange for crypto coins or hope, take a hard look at what app you are using. You should be especially careful if you use an Android phone. The Lookout Threat Lab security researchers have identified as many as 170 Android applications, of which 25 were listed on the Play Store. These apps are designed to scam people looking to make money from crypto mining.
These apps were able not to be detected and checked by the Play Store because they did not appear to do anything that could trigger automated policy compliance checks. These apps actually did nothing. Google has since removed these apps from the Play Store. But this is only the tip of an iceberg. Fake cryptocurrency apps such as these charged users a fee in exchange for computing power on their smartphones, which was used to mine crypto coins. They claimed to be mining Bitcoin and Ethereum. The apps cost $12.99 to $259.99. You would need to pay via Google Play’s stored payment mechanisms or directly to the developer’s cryptocurrency wallet. But nothing changed.
Although the apps offered a lot of transactions, those who signed up were not able to see them all. The scamming apps had a minimum balance of mined coins required before users could withdraw their earnings. Security researchers claim that users were not allowed to withdraw earnings even though they had met the minimum threshold. Users were offered higher-tier subscription plans that promised better rewards and a lower minimum balance. The Lookout Threat Lab believes these apps are available on the Google Play Store as well as third-party app stores. They have scammed over 93,000 people and stolen at least $350,000. Users paid subscription fees and purchased upgrades in-app.
“While CloudScam, BitScam and other apps have been removed from Google Play now, there are still dozens of them in third-party store app stores. The operators made at least $350,000 in total. Researchers say they stole $300,000. They also took $50,000 in cryptocurrency from victims who paid for fake upgrades and services. Anyone who is interested in a crypto mining app should get to know the developer, read reviews from other users, and review the terms and conditions. They claim that most scam apps have either fake information or no terms. Researchers also warn that apps that ask for permissions to access your phone in a way it shouldn’t, are a red flag. You should also be aware of apps that reset themselves frequently or crash, which can cause a crypto balance reset.