Google Play removed eight apps masquerading as cryptocurrency cloud miners but functioned by tricking users into watching advertisements, according to security firm Trend Micro.
The eight fake cryptocurrency apps were identified as BitFunds – Crypto Cloud Mining, Bitcoin 2021, Bitcoin Miner – Cloud Mining, Bitcoin (BTC) – Pool Mining Cloud Wallet, Crypto Holic – Bitcoin Cloud Mining, Daily Bitcoin Rewards – Cloud Based Mining System, Ethereum (ETH) – Pool Mining Cloud, and MineBit Pro – Crypto Cloud Mining & BTC miner.
The monthly subscription service for the apps was $15.
Two of the malicious apps are purchased on installation, which was a strategy was used to gain users’ trust. These were Crypto Holic – Bitcoin Cloud Mining, which costs $12.99 to download, and Daily Bitcoin Rewards – Cloud Based Mining System, which required $5.99 for download.
The fake apps had no cryptocurrency-mining behavior and were said to have carried out bogus mining activity via a local mining simulation module that featured a counter and some random functions.
These deceptive apps also charged users to pay for enhanced cryptocurrency-mining capabilities via the apps’ in-app billing systems, ranging from $14.99 to high as $189.99.
Few of these apps have even been downloaded more than 100,000 times, as per the security firm.
Google is said to have removed the apps from Google Play, but Trend Micro reported that when it searched keywords like ‘cloud mining’, it found many concerning apps of the same type.
To weed out fake apps, Trend Micro suggests users try entering the wrong cryptocurrency wallet address. If the app is fraudulent, it would accept the address and perform follow-up operations.
Trend Micro added that free-of-cost withdrawals should be considered very suspicious as cryptocurrency transfer requires a high handling fee.