Google takes down 8 fake digital currency mining apps, but 100+ still online

Google has taken down eight fake digital currency mining apps from its Play Store. The tech giant was alerted to the presence of the eight by cybersecurity firm Trend Micro, and took them down promptly. However, Trend Micro says there are over 100 more fake mining apps that are still online, some with as many as 100,000 downloads.

At a time when digital currencies are becoming ever more popular, scammers are now taking to app stores to target unsuspecting newbies. Trend Micro’s study found that scammers are evolving beyond creation of cryptojacking malware and towards creating fake Android apps.

These apps pose as digital currency cloud mining apps that allow users to earn from a passive investment.

“However, upon analysis, we discovered that these malicious apps only trick victims into watching ads, paying for subscription services that have an average monthly fee of US$15, and paying for increased mining capabilities without getting anything in return,” the Tokyo-based IT company stated.

It reported the eight to Google which promptly took them down from its Play Store.

The eight are:

  • BitFunds – Crypto Cloud Mining
  • Bitcoin Miner – Cloud Mining
  • Bitcoin (BTC) – Pool Mining Cloud Wallet
  • Crypto Holic – Bitcoin Cloud Mining
  • Daily Bitcoin Rewards – Cloud Based Mining System
  • Bitcoin 2021
  • MineBit Pro – Crypto Cloud Mining & btc miner
  • Ethereum (ETH) – Pool Mining Cloud

Even more surprising is that two of these are paid apps—users need to purchase them before they download them. Daily Bitcoin Rewards – Cloud Based Mining System costs US$5.99, while Crypto Holic – Bitcoin Cloud Mining costs US$12.99 to download.

While the eight were taken down, over 100 more remain online. Trend Micro estimates that 120 fake mining apps are still available on Google’s Play Store.

The company added, “These apps, which do not have cryptocurrency mining capabilities and deceive users into watching in-app ads, have affected more than 4,500 users globally from July 2020 to July 2021.”

Most of these apps have been listed under the Play Store’s finance category. However, reading into the fine print starts revealing the deceptions. One of them, MineBit Pro – Crypto Cloud Mining, describes itself on its terms and conditions as “an educational simulation/game developed to better teach people about the crypto money ecosystem…”

To better protect yourself, Trend Micro advices that you carefully read an app’s reviews, paying special attention to the 1-star reviews, as the 5-stars are usually paid for. For cloud mining apps, those that promise free withdrawals are also likely to be fraudulent.

Watch: CoinGeek Zurich panel, Using Blockchain to Strengthen Cybersecurity

New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.

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