Recently, it has been discovered that several counterfeit or fake apps have gone on the rise that are mimicking legitimate financial apps to dupe the public of their money or valuable data. The apps that are being mainly mimicked or targeted are mostly mainstream or popular apps that have a large user base like cryptocurrency apps, stock trading apps or banking apps. The scammers are targeting both the Android and iOS platform users.
The apps’ links are mainly found to be distributed through social media and dating sites where the user meets or befriends someone (scammer). The scammer slowly gains the users’ trust and then starts to give financial advice as a friend and the user end up installing a fake app shared by the scammer to get high financial returns or rewards. Upon depositing the money the scammer cuts all ties with the users and the user ends up losing his money and sensitive information provided by him/her while registering oneself in the fraudulent app.
It has been found that the scammers are mostly targeting new cryptocurrency investors as the cryptocurrency field is rather new to the world compared to other platforms. The scammers are taking advantage of the people’s lack of knowledge in this new field and are duping them by making them install fake cryptocurrency trading apps or wallet apps that look exactly like real apps. The most common popular cryptocurrency trading apps found to be mimicked or duplicated are Gemini, Bitwala, Kraken, Binance, Bittrex, BitFlyer, TDBank, BitcoinHK, and Barclays.
Recently, a scam regarding a popular Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange app, Goldenway Group was reported, where a person had come in contact with scammers via social media and dating site. As mentioned above, over time the scammers slowly gained the victim’s trust and befriended him. The scammers asked the victim to shift to a messaging platform where they could communicate much more freely. They even avoided coming in direct face to face contact by giving the Covid-19 pandemic reason. The victim was then, shared a link to the Goldenway Group trading App. The scammers then instructed the victim to invest in some cryptocurrency and were asked to transfer the currency to their wallet. After doing so, the scammers ended all connections with the victim.
Many scammers have also been found to use the Super signature process to directly target a select few groups. The Super signature process is for app developers who wish to test their demo apps on a select few iOS-based devices without the need of going through the Apple store. The scammers are posing as app developers and using the Super signature and also the Web Clip technique to get their malicious apps installed on a users phone to scam them under the false pretext of testing their apps.
How to avoid these Fraudulent Apps?
We can follow few guidelines to keep ourselves safe. The guidelines are listed below:
- All apps should only be installed from trusted sources like Google Play and Apple’s App Store.
- App developer almost always have a website from where the genuine app can be downloaded and installed.
- Users should always check basic app related details before downloading or installing an app like developer name or details.
- An user can also have an antivirus installed on their phones that may help to detect and block potential threats.
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