We shouldn’t have to say that if something on the internet sounds too good to be true, it probably is, but a new report suggests that we do. According to a review of virus activity on mobile devices from antivirus software maker Doctor Web, a new breed of fraudulent apps is taking Google Play by storm. The Android apps in question claim that users can make money by completing tasks, but the rewards are often virtually impossible to collect.
As noted by Bleeping Computer, the three apps the report cited have accumulated more than 20 million downloads in all. Lucky Step-Walking Tracker has been downloaded over 10 million times, while WalkingJoy and Lucky Habit: health tracker have each been download over 5 million times. The apps were available on Google Play as recently as Sunday.
All three apps rewarded users with virtual currency (“tickets” or “coins”) for accomplishing certain tasks, such as walking a certain distance or developing healthy habits. Of course, they could also accrue those same rewards by watching ads.
“In order to initiate the process of withdrawing what they “earned,”” Doctor Web explained in the virus report, “users had to collect a significant number of rewards. If they were able to do this, the applications additionally demanded that they watch dozens of advertising videos. They were then offered several dozen more ads to watch in order to “speed up” the withdrawal process. With that, the apps did not verify any of the payment-related data provided by users, so the chances of receiving any of the money promised from these apps are extremely small.”
This scam isn’t nearly as dangerous as some that we’ve covered in recent months. Nevertheless, it serves as a reminder to think twice before downloading even the most innocuous-looking app. If you suspect an app is malicious, trust your gut, because it probably is.