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Google PlayStore Still Has Dozens of Rogue Apps

A new breed of rogue apps that don’t even need to hack users is making the rounds on the Google Play Store. Millions of people have installed applications that promise great rewards for completing tasks they never get.

No virus, just rip-off after line and thread

When it comes to dark machinations on the Internet, viruses, malware, or similar are often mentioned. We also have to keep reporting about apps in the Play Store that have malware in their luggage and thus earn money with advertising fraud, for example.

In a recent report, a completely different kind of shady application is currently enjoying great popularity in Google’s App Store. They promise rewards, but the only intention behind them is to show users as much advertising as possible. The analysis looks at three applications that together have over 20 million downloads.

Three examples given in the report are listed:

  • Lucky Step – Walking Tracker – 10 million downloads
  • WalkingJoy – 5 million downloads
  • Lucky Habit: Health Tracker – 5 million downloads

A look at the names reveals a lot about the approach: the apps all masquerade as activity-tracking applications. They all make promises of granting users random rewards if certain goals are met. like the report analyses, it is practically impossible to actually redeem the prizes. The principle: the makers want to keep users on board for as long as possible in order to watch more and more commercials.

The first hurdle: The apps specify an almost unattainable high threshold for payment. In order to be able to unlock these “profits” at all, according to the claim, product videos have to be watched. The next step is more advertising, which is supposed to be watched in order to supposedly “speed up the withdrawal process”. “The apps did not check any of the payment data provided by the users, so the chances of receiving the money promised by these apps are extremely slim,” says the report.

The app ‘Lucky Step – Walking Tracker’ even goes one step further. At launch, the provider stated that in-app rewards could be converted into gift cards for online stores and presented a corresponding option. In an update, this option was removed without replacement. “Rewards” continue to be awarded, but there is no longer any indication of any possibility of conversion.