Most mobile-minded hackers use third-party app stores and repackaged apps to make money via bogus ad views or to turn your handset into a virtual currency mining rig but one recent developer took a completely different approach to game the system.
An app called Virus Shield hit the Google Play Store a little over a week ago. It promised to prevent harmful apps from being installed on your device and could scan apps, settings, files and media in real-time – all with a low impact on battery life and zero advertisements.
With a simple user interface and one-touch virus protection, it climbed the ranks and became the #1 new paid app with more than 10,000 downloads and a 4.7-star rating despite its $3.99 price tag. So, what’s the problem?
It’s a total scam.
As pointed out by Android Police, the app doesn’t protect your device. And no, I don’t mean that it sucks at its job – it flat out doesn’t do anything. When “activated” by the user, all it does it change the onscreen icon from an “X” image to a “check” symbol. That’s it.
The publication decompiled the app and even mirrored the Java code on GitHub so you can check it for yourself. And since that time, a number of Google+ users have also confirmed its bogus nature.
Google has since pulled the app from the Play Store but the damage has already been done and the fraudster likely made quite a bit of money in the process. But more worrisome is the fact that it highlights just how easy it is to get a bogus app into Google’s official marketplace in the first place.