Over the past few years Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, and other cryptocurrencies have been growing and gaining everyone’s attention. Their dollar exchange rate is becoming the talk of the world, lately. Notable companies and businesses have begun accepting cryptocurrency as a payment method. Several cryptocurrency mining apps have been developed all over the internet and displayed on the Google Play Store.
With so much popularity and accessibility, security issues arise. Everyone wants to paddle in the profits from cryptocurrency and is on the lookout for ways to do it with less investment of time and money. Cybercriminals are exploiting people’s interests by creating fake Android applications that target those interested in digital currency.
Trend Micro on the hunt
A cybersecurity company, Trend Micro managed to find around 120 fake cryptocurrency mining applications. Some of these were also available on Google Play Store. Google has taken action by removing many of these applications from its platform and plans on removing others as well. However, these applications surface every now and then, so it’s advisable to check before making an investment that is a sure-shot loss.
8 Scam Applications on Google Play Store
Trend Micro confirmed their discovery of at least eight mobile applications which endorse themselves as cryptocurrency cloud mining apps. Users are made to believe that they can earn cryptocurrency by investing money in mining operations. They make the users watch ads, pay for a monthly subscription of at least USD 15 and hike up the price if users opt for more mining options. There are no returns or profits for these investments. Trend Micro has reported its analysis to Google Play and successfully gotten some questionable applications removed.
Let’s have a look at them:
- BitFunds – Crypto Cloud Mining
- Bitcoin Miner – Cloud Mining
- Bitcoin (BTC – Pool Mining Cloud Wallet
- Crypto Holic – Bitcoin Cloud Mining
- Daily Bitcoin Rewards – Cloud-Based Mining System
- Bitcoin 2021
- MineBit Pro – Crypto Cloud Mining & BTC Miner
- Ethereum (ETH) – Pool Mining Cloud
Two of these fraudulent applications require to be purchased. Crypto Holic – Bitcoin Cloud Mining costs USD 12.99 and Daily Bitcoin Rewards is for USD 5.99.
The cybersecurity firm warned users that similar applications were detected on the Google Play Store when searched for ‘cloud mining’. Some of these apps have been downloaded more than 100,000 times. They are still being used by victims and deceive them into watching in-app ads.
Moreover, their investigation has proved the fake mining activity is conducted using a local mining simulation module which includes a counter and random functions. Despite their lack of mining features, they push users to pay for enhanced mining operations which range from USD 14.99 to USD 189.9. The Daily Bitcoin Rewards – Cloud Based Mining System encourages its users to upgrade their crypto mining capacity by purchasing mining machines.
Ways in which scammers are sweeping users into tricks
Some of these applications are listed in Play Store’s finance category and endorsed as cloud mining apps.
Trend Micro found, upon further investigation, that applications push users to click on ads instead of paying for increased computing power for mining. These applications include Bitcoin (BTC) – Pool Mining Cloud Wallet and Bitcoin 2021.
Their tactics include:
- Prompting to click on ads in order to provide human verification
- Promising mining begins after watching ads
- Increasing mining speed by watching ads
Referrals to friends
These apps ask users to make referrals to their friends in order to enable withdrawal. However, even after the users invite friends, they would not be able to withdraw cryptocurrency as the app will remain stuck in the waiting state.
How to recognize a scam Cryptocurrency App
Understanding how to spot fraudulent apps from a distance is important not only for the cryptocurrency market but also for those interested in mining.
Let’s have a look over some tips we have for you to keep in mind.
- Read through the application’s reviews and focus more on the 1-star reviews to see what complaints users have had. The fake apps will have several 5-star reviews to fool victims for which they pay for.
- Try to enter an invalid or wrong cryptocurrency wallet address. Most of the fraudulent apps process wallet addresses as non-empty values and accept to perform follow-up operations. If the application is accepting an invalid address, it’s probably a scam.
- Restart the app or your phone. Most fake apps run on simulated local counters, which means any interruption will clear the counter to zero.
- Check for a withdrawal fee. Transferring cryptocurrency requires a handling fee that is higher compared to what is made from cloud mining. Free withdrawals are rare and very suspicious.
Even after taking these precautions and making sure you’re downloading the right application for mining, there are risks and safety hazards. In order to avoid any and all scammers, it’s always a good idea to download an antivirus. One should be on the lookout for any fake malware-laced applications. Better safe than sorry!