July 7, 2020
Google Play Store Fleeceware

Fleeceware in the Google Play Store have Cost Unsuspecting Users $100s for a Basic Calculator and QR Code Scanning Apps

Problems continue to plague the Google Play Store in the form of malware and now, it’s dealing with a new scheme called Fleeceware…

Malware is a real problem. It’s been troublesome for the Google Play Store for some time now. We’ve all probably heard of adware, spyware, phishing, and others. Now, there’s another to look out for– fleeceware.

Google Play Store Fleeceware Tricks Unsuspecting Users Out of Hundreds of Dollars

Numerous fleeceware apps have been found in the Google Play Store, which have cumulatively garnered more than 20 million downloads.

Security firm Sophos discovered the nefarious apps, which charged between $100 and $240. The developers lured victims with free trials, which lasted only a short time.

What’s most disturbing is the fact those hefty fees were for mundane apps, like basic calculators and QR code readers. (Of course, there are a plethora of free alternatives.)

Part of the scheme required users to first cancel their free trials, then uninstall the apps. This goes against standard practices. Sophos notes:

“Because these apps exist in a categorical grey area that isn’t overtly malware, and isn’t a potentially unwanted app (PUA), we’ve coined the term fleeceware, because their defining characteristic is that they overcharge users for functionality that’s widely available in free or low-cost apps.”

Bill Boyles

Bill is a freelance writer who covers a wide range of topics, including apps, social media, and search.

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