Fake Google Play apps scam Japanese porn seekers

Security firm Symantec says these fraudulent Android apps are using a one-click method, tricking Japanese-language porn lovers into registering for a paid service that doesn't exist.

Symantec

Hundreds of Japanese porn apps in the Google Play marketplace are tricking porn seekers into shelling out $1,000 for a fake service, security firm Symantec has found.

The company published a blog post today about the more than 200 fraudulent Android apps published by over 50 developers. Symantec has been tracking these apps since late January.

"From then on, the apps were published by different developers each time and the number of apps steadily grew though many were removed from Google Play at one point for unconfirmed reasons," according to the blog. "We are now seeing multiple developers fiercely publishing apps in bulk on a daily basis."

We've contacted Google for more information and will update if we hear back.

These developers are using a one-click fraud scam, according to Symantec. A typical one-click scam on a desktop is when a user clicks on a link and inadvertently downloads malware onto a computer, forcing the user to sign up for a paid service to stop popups. In the smartphone cases Symantec is following, the apps send users to porn sites that require a "service" fee. These fake apps don't actually do anything other than gain access to your phone and direct you to the site.

"Typically, the apps only require the user to accept the 'Network communication' permission, although some variants do not require the user to accept any permissions," according to Symantec. "This is because the app is simply used as a vehicle to lure users to the scam by opening fraudulent porn sites. The app itself has no other functionality. This may fool users into feeling safe about the app and catch them off guard when launching the app."

Symantec said the apps are "easily" found on Google Play and the registration generally costs 99,000 yen, the equivalent of about $1,000. The apps have been downloaded at least 5,000 times in the last two months, but Symantec didn't determine how many users actually paid up. The firm speculated that there must be enough users paying to convince the app developers to keep on scamming.

Porn lovers aren't the only targets. Symantec said there are also a couple of developers who have been publishing fake dating service apps that act in the same manner.

 

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