Popular Virus Scan app outed as a scam and pulled from Google Play

Popular Virus Scan app outed as a scam and pulled from Google Play
There is a lot of fear-mongering going around about how much malware there is on Android and how many viruses can be on your device. Of course, the real truth is that any malware on your device likely got there because you chose to install something you shouldn't have. If you stick to the Play Store, you should be fine. Still, that fear was enough to make Virus Scan one of the most popular new apps on Android.

The app was listed in the Google Play Store for $3.99, and its description claimed that the app "Prevents harmful apps from being installed on your device," "scans apps, settings, files, and media in real time," and "protects your personal information." All of this would be done without hurting your battery life or bugging you with ads. That sounded good enough to make Virus Scan the number one Top New Paid App in Google Play just one week after its release, and garner it a 4.7 star (out of 5) rating with over 10,000 downloads.

Unfortunately, the whole thing was a scam. The Virus Scan app didn't actually do any of the things it claimed. It had a shield icon with an X in it, and when you tapped it, it changed to a shield with a check symbol and told you your device was virus free. That's it. It had no code at all to scan any apps, or find any real threats. 

Android Police uncovered the scam a couple days, and mirrored the code base of the app to show that it had nothing of value in it. The app has since been removed from the Play Store.

Popular Virus Scan app outed as a scam and pulled from Google Play

FEATURED VIDEO

21 Comments

1. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Unfortunately, I don't know if there's a way for Google to force the app "developer" to refund the money that people paid for this scam. But at least it was removed quick, fast and in a hurry.

15. mturby unregistered

apple would been courteous enough to refund the money.

17. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Maybe. Maybe not.

21. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

They have in the past. And as bad as Apple is in refund processes, Google is even worse. I hope they do the right thing. I dont see that happening though, given they changed refund time from 1 day to 15 minutes. 15 minutes isnt even enough for some apps to download and install, even on a high speed wifi connection. Now THAT'S a scam.

2. Sauce unregistered

Maybe a system should be put into affect in both the App Store and the Play Store, and a new ToS (Terms of Service) should be implemented. More and more people take advantage of the average every day. Maybe a system that uses/requires verified credentials (more than just a dev account linked thru email) through paypal or other identity services that would make it harder for people to scam innocent people who aren't as educated with tech. A violation fine/fee would be issued in scale to the damage they have done. Maybe something like a scaled violation fee based on the amounts of downloads and total revenue made. The Play Store or App Store would then bill the person(s) responsible.

3. itsdeepak4u2000

Posts: 3718; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

Google, is this what we call security?

4. ocilfa

Posts: 334; Member since: Aug 03, 2012

They paid for "Virus Shield" from a developer called "Deviant Solutions"? I have no sympathy.

8. imsmrtrthnyu

Posts: 3; Member since: Apr 08, 2014

Amen. Why would you download the antivirus app from Avast or Eset for free, when you can pay $4 for "Virus Shield" from "Deviant Solutions"? Sure Google could police the play store better, but these folks could have googled to figure out which app to pick (I am sure they spent way more time on facebook, yelp, urban spoon to pick a burger joint, or find Arby's coupons.

5. mariosraptor

Posts: 167; Member since: Mar 15, 2012

he got himself 40000 dollars in a week. those should be refunded, if not from the "developer" then from Google which was taking a Nap at the time

20. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

It's good, old fraud. Hand the developer's information over to the police to arrest his sorry ass. Whatever jurisdiction he's in, Google probably is too to bring the complaint to justice.

6. davenycept

Posts: 200; Member since: Jul 03, 2012

I'm glad Google is looking out for these creeps though

7. fuelband

Posts: 28; Member since: Jul 19, 2013

Google was not looking out for these creeps, they virtually let them through and went on to steal people's money! It was androidpolice who found out and blew the scammer's cover.

9. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

That android police is a cool site. They have done many apk teardowns and caught many scam apps. Their site name suits them. Cool guys.

10. LAFN

Posts: 61; Member since: Jul 19, 2009

" If you stick to the Play Store, you should be fine." apparently not.

11. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Well, when it comes to malware, in other words software that actively harms your phone, that statement remains true. The scam app just didn't do anything while claiming it did. It was some asshole's way of making a ton of quick money off of peoples' fears.

12. LAFN

Posts: 61; Member since: Jul 19, 2009

If the app can be easily be added with the premise it removes malware and it doesn't how are we sure it isn't adding or being malware?

13. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Because the base code was examined and it simply did...nothing. Its only harm was to downloaders' wallets.

14. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Sad to see this filtering down to mobile OS's. We have enough of this on desktops. I had to clean someone's PC a few months ago because she thought the security software was real. These people.....along with people that try to scam folks looking for jobs...need to be sent to live on the moon. Seems the difference between this apps and desktop ones is desktop ones can actually do malicious things. An update by the dev probably would have introduced some nastier stuff tho.

16. mturby unregistered

what about the rest of the apps in the play store? do they work? r they scams? we well never know till androidpolice search every single app since google doesnt.

18. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Most apps are pretty obvious when they're scams. Virus protection is harder to work out for the average user since it by definition usually runs in the background. This is an unusual case that we likely won't see often. Btw, re: checking the functionality of every single app in the store, would you like the job of doing so? I mean, there's about a million of them. Get cracking.

19. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

with googles cash and them buying apps, sure I will apply for the job 100k a year with a team of 20 at 40k a year

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 https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.