The year 2021 will be remembered as a watershed moment for cryptocurrencies. Despite its ups and downs, Bitcoin is still valued at over $32,000 per coin. Not only Bitcoin, but most other cryptocurrencies have enjoyed significant price increases this year. As a result, there has been a surge of crypto apps, both in app stores and from third-party developers. Many of these apps, however, are scams. Lookout, a security organization, has published a detailed analysis on dangerous crypto-mining apps.
More than 170 Android apps that claim to provide cryptocurrency mining services for a fee are essentially scams, according to the researchers. 25 of the 170 were hosted on Google Play, and they are attempting to defraud cryptocurrency enthusiasts by proposing cloud-based mining services.
Cryptocurrency mining is using computing power (from a personal computer or a rented system) to solve computational and cryptographic tasks in exchange for coins. However, the processing power necessary for many types of cryptocurrency is now greater than a single personal computer, allowing individuals to join mining pools and share the effort — and the profits.
Because they didn’t appear to be doing anything that would trigger the Play Store’s automated policy compliance checks, these apps were able to dodge any and all detection and checks in place for apps listed on the Play Store. In reality, these apps were doing absolutely nothing. Google has since deleted the apps from the Play Store. Bitcoin and Ethereum are among the coins they claim to be mining. These apps cost $12.99 to $259.99, and you could pay with Google Play’s saved payment methods or crypto coins like Bitcoin, which you could send directly to the developer’s crypto wallet.
There were even higher-tier membership options that required users to pay more money in exchange for a lower minimum balance requirement and better benefits. The Lookout Threat Lab thinks that these apps, which are available on the Google Play Store and third-party app stores, have defrauded more than 93,000 consumers and stole at least $350,000 in subscription fees and in-app purchases.
“While CloudScam and BitScam apps have now been removed from Google Play, there are dozens more still being circulated in third-party app stores. In total, the operators generated at least $350,000. They stole $300,000 from selling the fake apps and an additional $50,000 in cryptocurrencies from victims paying for fake upgrades and services. Most of the scam apps either have fake information or don’t have any terms available,” say the researchers.