A series of 68 apps created by five different publishers found on Google Play that promise capabilities like games, phone hacking and phone number but really deliver little or no functionality have been uncovered by a recent study.
Symantec researchers found the apps, which have been downloaded from between 5 and 50,000 times, are nothing more than vehicles for adware. The apps were developed by EpicOmegaApps, Pinwheel, Zaybra, Simple Designs and AppTchi.
Hundreds of problematical apps have been found on Google Play over the last several months, many much more dangerous than what Symantec discovered. This includes some harboring malicious Window's executable files, fake bank apps, those seeking ad clicks and one promising the hot game Fortnite.
The 11 apps uploaded by EpicOmegaApps in December 2017 all have a legitimate appearance, but in each case once downloaded simply lead the victim through a string of steps with each one being preceded by an ad and in some cases the screens ask for information such as usernames. In the end, none of the apps deliver any functionality.
Pinwheel led the pack by uploading 40 identical fraudulent apps, such as “human voice reader” “Pregnancy Tracker” and "Avenger infinity war HD movie” in June 2018 with a total installation account so far of 13,000. All just deliver an advertisement covered splash screen.
The two Zaybra created apps, posted to Google Play in January and May 2018, do take a small step toward offering functionality, but instead of delivering what the app description states. Both apps are supposed to track mobile phone numbers, but all each does is display an incoming call's number while pushing ads.
The data recovery app by Simple Designs is a bit different in that it actually does show a stream of data, however, it's not data recovered from anywhere, but content already residing on the device. And, of course, it also pushes ads.
AppTchi's dodge is to keep the user busy with a fake progress bar while showing ads.
All the apps were reported to Google by Symantec in July 2018.