A collection of 151 scam apps have been discovered and removed from the Google Play Store, but Android users should verify that none of them are installed (or have in the past).
As BGR reports, cybersecurity software company Avast recently discovered a widespread premium SMS scam operating on the official Play Store. Avast has dubbed it the UltimaSMS campaign (because the first fraudulent app the company discovered in its investigation was Ultima Keyboard 3D Pro), and it consists of 151 bogus apps that have been downloaded over 10.5 million times across. more than 80 different countries.
Apps disguise themselves as legitimate tools in several app categories, including custom keyboards, QR code scanners, video and photo editors, unwanted call blockers, camera filters, and games. However, they all ultimately have the same goal of signing up users for premium SMS services.
Each app follows the same pattern: once installed, the location of the phone, the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI), and the phone number are checked to discover the area code and language to use. The prompts then ask the user for their phone number and sometimes their email address as well. This information is then used to subscribe the user to premium SMS services without them realizing it. The fees are typically $ 40 or more per month and it can take weeks or months for a user to figure it out.
Once an UltimaSMS app has achieved its goal, it either stops working or offers more subscription options rather than the promised functionality it was downloaded for. The problem is that even if a user uninstalls the app at this point, the premium subscriptions will continue to take money from their accounts.
Avast has created a list of all 151 apps that are part of this scam, and they are listed in the table below; every android user should take a look. If any of these apps are installed (or have done so in the past), uninstall them immediately, but also check your statements and contact your carrier if you see any unusual charges. It should also be possible to ask your carrier to turn off premium SMS options on your account if you want to avoid this type of scam in the future.
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This is not the first time and it certainly will not be the last time that we see phone users targeted by scam apps. Malware is also a serious problem, with more than 10 million Android phones infected with GriftHorse malware last month.
Editor’s Note: The TrueCaller ID app listed below is not the legitimate Truecaller automated call blocker from True Software Scandinavia AB, which remains on the Play Store. All fraudulent apps on this list have been removed from the Play Store.
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