A collection of 151 rogue apps have been discovered and removed from the Google Play Store, but Android users need to check if they haven’t installed any of them (or in the past).
As reported by BGR, the cybersecurity software company Avast recently discovered a widespread premium SMS scam on the official Play Store. Avast has named it the UltimaSMS campaign (because the first scam app the company discovered during its investigation was Ultima Keyboard 3D Pro) and consists of 151 fake apps that have been used over 10.5 million times in more than 80 different countries downloaded.
The apps disguise themselves as legitimate tools in several app categories, including custom keyboards, QR code scanners, video and photo editors, spam 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, it checks the phone’s location, International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI), and phone number to determine which area code and language to use. Prompts then ask the user for their phone number and sometimes their email address. This information is then used to subscribe the user to premium SMS services without them noticing. The fees are typically $ 40 or more per month and it can take weeks or months for a user to realize this.
Once an UltimaSMS app reaches its destination, it either stops working or offers more subscription options than the promised functionality for which it was downloaded. The problem is that even if a user uninstalls the app at this point, the premium subscriptions will continue to withdraw money from their accounts.
Avast has compiled a list of all 151 apps involved in this scam, and they are listed in the following table; Every Android user should take a look. If you have any of these apps installed (or have installed them in the past), uninstall them immediately, but also check your bank statements and contact your carrier if you notice any unusual charges. It should also be possible to ask your carrier to turn off premium SMS options for your account if you want to avoid this type of scam in the future.
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This isn’t the first time and it certainly won’t be the last time phone users have been attacked with rogue apps. Malware is also a serious problem as over 10 million Android phones have been infected with the GriftHorse malware in the past month.
Publisher’s Note: The TrueCaller ID app listed below is not the legitimate Truecaller robocall blocker from True Software Scandinavia AB that remains on the Play Store. All scam apps on this list have been removed from the Play Store.
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