Android Dev Scams More Than 10,000 Customers With Fake Antivirus App

scam

If you’ve browsed the top paid charts in Google Play recently, you may already be familiar with Virus Shield, a $4 app that promised to protect your Android-powered devices from harmful files. It amassed more than 10,000 downloads during its short time on Google Play, and received a 4.7 star rating from thousands of users.

The only problem is, those users didn’t know that Virus Shield was nothing more than a complete scam.

If you were one of the people who purchased Virus Shield, you might be wondering why it suddenly vanished from Google Play over the weekend. It was obviously successful, and it seemed to work well, so why did its developer remove it?

Virus Shield reached the top of the paid chart for new apps.

Virus Shield reached the top of the paid chart for new apps.

Well, Virus Shield didn’t work well. It actually didn’t work at all. When you opened the app for the first time, after handing over your $3.99, you were greeted by an image of shield with a big red cross that changed to an image of a shield with a big red checkmark.

It gave the illusion that your device was now protected and no longer vulnerable to malicious apps and code. Unfortunately, that wasn’t true. Devices with Virus Shield installed were no more secure than those without it, because the app literally did nothing.

“We’ve decompiled the app and mirrored the java code on GitHub, minus a few art assets,” Android Police reports. “We’ve confirmed that this app is totally and completely devoid of any security benefit.”

Virus Shield wasn’t just “devoid of any security benefit” — it was devoid of pretty much everything. It contained a couple of images, and that’s all.

Obviously, it was a blatant scam. Its developer, “Deviant Solutions” (get it?), charged Google Play customers $3.99 for what was essentially a couple of images — and thanks to the incredible number of downloads the app received, they made good money out of it.

Thankfully, the app has now been pulled.

Hard-working developers put valuable time and effort into creating apps and games in the hope that they’ll be as successful as Virus Shield, and it’s a shame that scams like this can be so successful in Google Play. It’s the price we pay for the luxury of an “open,” unregulated app marketplace.

While this approach certainly has its perks, Virus Shield is an excellent example of one of its downsides.

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