New scam baits Android users into signing for weekly subscription fees, beware!

Scammers have once again proved their ingenuity by cleverly exploiting the Google Play Store's mechanics. An Android game going by the name of Pingu Cleans Up, the purpose of which is to customize your virtual penguin, has been fooling unsuspecting users into subscribing for a €5.49 ($6.76) weekly subscription fee. 

As usual with those, you have to manually cancel the subscription for it to go away, otherwise it will continue steadily drawing funds from your linked credit card on a weekly basis while you're none the wiser. 

Here's how the scam works: upon installing and firing up the game, you're prompted to design your penguin avatar. Once you're ready, Pengu Cleans Up will ask you to confirm the design of your character. The first two windows are rather inconspicuous, but it's at the third one that the 'gotcha' happens - the last dialog is actually a Google Play subscription dialog that baits you into signing up for a weekly fee. 

The first two dialogs are cleverly designed to mimic the looks of the third one, which could easily fool many distracted or inattentive users into tapping "Confirm" without carefully inspecting the last dialog and noticing the subtle but important differences. Kids are especially prone to this scam.

Luckily, it didn't take long for the scam to be noticed by eagle-eyed users who flooded the game with negative reviews, but not before the game scored between 50,000 and 100,000 downloads. Pingu Cleans Up has been subsequently removed from the Play Store, but this doesn't mean that the scheme can't be employed by another wrongdoing app in the future. Beware.


Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless