Scam alert: These 84 apps that ruthlessly steal your money on your phone
Science and Technology

Scam alert: These 84 apps that ruthlessly steal your money on your phone

Some apps available on the App Store can steal money from you. And yes, these apps are smart, offer subscriptions, and suddenly increase prices without warning. But it’s too late. You’ve been deducted, and the companies behind these creations make millions every year. Although these scams were reported in March 2021, the majority of the apps in question are still available.

133 applications were allocated in 2021

In March 2021, antivirus publisher Avast revealed a list of 133 apps available on the App Store that abuse the subscription system to charge consumers unreasonable amounts of money. Unfortunately, after several months of highlighting these anomalies, the vast majority of applications are still available. This is what VPNCheck offers us today. 84 of the 133 apps identified in 2021 are still on the App Store, as of July 2022. This corresponds, in total, to 500 million downloads, and revenue of $365 million.

How do these apps, which researchers have dubbed Fleeceware, work? It’s simple, and the same thing always happens. You download the app. The subscription, which is generally more accessible, is offered to you. But this price is not fixed. It changes quickly and increases significantly from the next month. But you were not warned. You can terminate the subscription but it’s already too late, the month’s payment has been made. Thanks to this, these apps have managed to make a lot of money. We’re talking about $8.6 million every year.

These applications do not contain malicious code!

This information is important because App Store scams are easy to spot thanks to the malicious code of the apps in question. But in this specific case, the apps don’t have one. On the other hand, it is not difficult to recognize an application based solely on the feedback it receives. In fact, users can rate the apps (from one to five stars). VPNCheck points out, then, that the remaining reviews give a real indication:

The alarming ease with which these apps can be identified, with only general information, is ridiculous. Just read some 1 star reviews on the App Store. We don’t doubt for a moment that Apple will do what is necessary in the long run to solve the problem. But they are interested in the ticking of the clock“.

Android phones are affected too

If Android phones are making headlines, it’s for a similar scam scheme. It is the Joker software that allows some apps to steal money. Cybersecurity firm Padreo decided to investigate. And the latter turned out to be successful. In fact, four apps available on Google Play Store (the store where Android phone apps are located) are infected with Joker. How does this program work? It’s simple, it steals users’ private information and money. However, there are more than 100,000 involved.

To steal money, nothing could be simpler. He has created a hidden subscription system. Users are taken without their knowledge. Or at least they know it just by taking the sample. It’s as simple as it is effective. Padreo tells us that an affected app was used to read one-time passwords or access keys that users received by SMS. These are necessary to access certain services. The app took a silent screenshot and thus had access to the private passwords.

Joker also allows other apps to be installed on the phone (in the background). However, the latter is infected with programs that are sometimes more powerful and malicious. This time the scams are delivered straight to the phone, with targeted ads for deals too good to be true. The user is asked to enter personal information.

It is essential to be careful and not to think that you are safe on your phone. Remember to look at the reviews of the apps you download.


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