Fake Money Apps Garner Millions of Android Downloads

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Security experts have warned of several new apps available on Google Play which purport to help the user develop healthy habits in return for rewards, but in reality just bombard them with irritating ads.

Lucky Habit: health tracker, Lucky Step-Walking Tracker and WalkingJoy have garnered over 20 million downloads for what appears to be the same developer.

However, they lie to their users by claiming that virtual rewards earned for completing goals, such as distance walked per day, can be converted into real money, according to Dr Web. In fact, the aim of the apps appears to be to generate revenue for the developer by tricking users into watching ads.

“In order to initiate the process of withdrawing what they ‘earned,’ users had to collect a significant number of rewards. If they were able to do this, the applications additionally demanded that they watch dozens of advertising videos,” the security vendor explained.

“They were then offered several dozen more ads to watch in order to ‘speed up’ the withdrawal process. With that, the apps did not verify any of the payment-related data provided by users, so the chances of receiving any of the money promised from these apps are extremely small.”

A recent update to the Lucky Step-Walking Tracker app got rid of a function that invited users to convert rewards into online gift cards, it added.

Another app, called “Wonder Time,” urges users to earn virtual points, which can be converted into money by installing, launching and using other programs and games. The app has been downloaded over 500,000 times.

“However, to withdraw what they ‘earned,’ users had to collect millions of these rewards, while only a small number of tokens was credited when tasks were completed,” warned Dr Web. “So even if users managed to collect the required amount, they would spend much more in time, effort and other resources than the profit they expected to gain.”

All of the above fraudulent apps appear to have been withdrawn from Google Play at the time of writing, except for Lucky Step-Walking Tracker.

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