Android users need to avoid these apps before they get ripped off

Android users need to avoid these apps before they get ripped off
There are so many ways that infected apps can affect you without your knowledge. They can play ads on your phone in the background making money for the bad actors causing the handset to lag and suffer from a rapidly draining battery. Or they can use a premium messaging platform to send texts that you'll be charged for. And some of these apps will disappear once you install them and with no icon in the app drawer, uninstalling them becomes more complicated.

Now, IT security firm Sophos (via the Sunday Express) has discovered some new "fleeceware" that has been developed to separate Android users from their hard-earned cash. And the scary thing is that the apps do not contain malware or any type of malicious code. These apps won't even harm your phone if you install them. Instead, they simply overcharge Android users for utility apps with basic functions such as a calculator, a compass or a QR reader.

Once again red flags appear in the comments section


Here is how these scam apps work. Android users can install and use these apps for free, but only during a trial period (usually 3 days). Payment information is requested in advance. Once the trial period expires, if the service has not been canceled by the user AND the app uninstalled, he or she is charged an exorbitant amount not grounded in any semblance of reality. For example, some of these apps charge Android users as much as $240 once the trial period expires. And if you uninstall the app before hitting the 'Cancel' button, you might be out of luck because when the app goes away, so does that all-important button. Most Android developers would consider you to be through with their app once it is uninstalled from a phone.


Once again, red flags could be found right in the listings on the Google Play Store in the comments section. One particular post indicated that Google will not reimburse Android users who were scammed out of their cash. And when Sophos approached Google with a list of 15 "fleeceware" apps, Google told the company that it had already decided to remove some of the apps. While 14 of these 15 apps have been delisted from the Play Store, the security firm says that it has found other titles with even higher install counts than the original 15.


The developers behind this particular scam are hoping that Android users installing their apps forget about the three-day free trial. Heck, many of us can't even remember to cancel a 30-day free trial. And they are also counting on users not understanding that merely deleting the app doesn't remove the installer's financial obligations to the developer. It's an odds game for these developers who probably have figured out what percentage of installs typically result in a large payday for them. So it is simply a matter of getting more and more Android users to download these apps, sit back, and collect their dough. And since they are technically following the rules created by Google for in-app purchases, there really isn't much that can be done.

To avoid getting caught by one of these apps, read the comments section first. You'll find posts from people who got ripped off. Avoid these apps like the plague. In addition, set a reminder on your phone to cancel before any free trial period expires. Read the fine print always and never delete one of these apps without canceling the service first.

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51 Comments

1. darkkjedii

Posts: 31269; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

My Note 10+ has a built in GIF maker. These apps are why I rock Samsung as my primary, power user, and productivity device. A Samsung device has it all baked right in.

35. ShadowSnypa786

Posts: 590; Member since: Jan 06, 2017

Yeah I used the built in GIF maker too on my Note 9 the phone that pretty much does it all Venom sounds hurt lol

37. darkkjedii

Posts: 31269; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Exactly. The Note 10+, is the only reason I got rid of my Note 9. I sold it a few days ago, for $425.

43. TBomb

Posts: 1551; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

Out of curiosity, what are you turning into gifs and why? I always thought the feature could be useful/fun, but never came across a time when I was like "Ugh, I wish I had a gif making app"

44. darkkjedii

Posts: 31269; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Don't need to explain that, only need to have the feature at my disposal.

46. Venom

Posts: 3684; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

If it's such an important feature, then you wouldn't have any trouble explaining the usefulness of it.

45. Venom

Posts: 3684; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

It's just another feature that Samsung just threw in there that doesn't really have that much of a purpose. Don't get me wrong, I love features as much as the next guy, but they need to actually have some usefulness instead of just being there.

51. UmDuh

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 30, 2019

Creative people make gifs all the time.

48. Venom

Posts: 3684; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

I'm not hurt at all. A built in gif maker isn't going to play my perfectly good wired and wireless headphones.

15. CDexterWard

Posts: 85; Member since: Feb 05, 2018

: “Science says: there is NO headphone jack in the current and future premium Pixel lineup!”

21. CDexterWard

Posts: 85; Member since: Feb 05, 2018

Back on track with the original topic: Google needs to step up a hundredfold on security in the Play Store. I love having niche apps available - there is one for a collectible card game I used to play that is still updated but will never hit Apple’s App Store. However Google needs to trade a smidgeon of that openness for a little greater hold on it’s app vetting and give it’s consumers a greater peace of mind. Google Play Protect is terrible in that aspect and I expect more from a tech giant that uses AI and data from every conceivable nook and cranny of the web to allegedly give it’s users better services.

33. Venom

Posts: 3684; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

You have to realize that even the best filters won't be able to stop everything from coming through. That's where common sense comes in. It's no different than using a computer. You wouldn't just install anything onto your computer, so why would you do it for your phone?

53. CDexterWard

Posts: 85; Member since: Feb 05, 2018

Except that I never said anything even remotely close to that. I am very well aware that you can’t “just install anything” and expect 100% protection. What I said (if you had actually bothered to read before responding), is that Google needs to trade *some* (“a smidgeon”) of it’s openess for *better* app vetting. There is no 100% protection, which is why I didn’t post anything about that. Why is that such an odd request when the malware discoveries seem to be getting worse?

22. MsPooks

Posts: 154; Member since: Jul 08, 2019

I've always maintained: the Play Store is the biggest vector for malware on Android. All the fast updates in the world won't help when malware is promoted by Google themselves.

34. Venom

Posts: 3684; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

Malware can exist on any platform, in which the iphone.

36. BLUEBLASTER

Posts: 938; Member since: Feb 23, 2014

Where is Mario Kart Mobile on this list?

50. Valdomero

Posts: 697; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

True, it's sad that Nintendo went the freemium route, they could've easily sold Mario Kart for $4.99 and be a great hit

49. Valdomero

Posts: 697; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

This also happens in Apple's AppStore, only that they charge way less than these MFs, My ef gf once downloaded an app that had a 24-hour free trial on her iphone 6s+ then charges 24.99/month, only to edit photos!, not even damned Photoshop does it!

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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