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Symantec finds plethora of fraud apps on Google Play market

03 Apr 2013
Google Android Malware

A widespread fraud ring has sold hundreds of dodgy applications on the Google Play Android marketplace, according to reports.

Researchers with Symantec said that as many as 200 applications are available on the marketplace which utilise a 'one click' technique to trick users. The applications, which are chiefly Japanese-language, present themselves as adult content.

Upon attempting to access the content, users are presented with pay walls which ask users to purchase premium services.

"People typically come across these scam sites by searching for things that they are interested in or by clicking on links contained in spam messages," Symantec said.

"We also witnessed the advent of one-click fraud Android apps just over a year ago and those apps can now be found on Google Play."

The company said that the attacks may have been going on for months and may involve as many as 50 different developers. While Google has deleted some of the offending applications from the market, the company estimates that as many as 5,000 downloads of the fraudulent applications have already occurred.

"As far as victims go, we are not aware of how many of these users actually paid money to the scammers; the 'service' costs about 99,000 yen (approximately US$1,000)," Symantec said.

"It certainly must be worth the time and effort for the scammers as they have continued doing business for over two months."

Due to its large market share and relatively open ecosystem, Android has emerged as a favourite target for malware writers. Recently, security researchers estimated that Android accounted for 80 percent of all mobile malware samples.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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