December 2, 2020
fake WhatsApp app

Google Play Store Fake WhatsApp App Downloaded Over 1 Million Times

More than one million mobile device users downloaded a fake WhatsApp app from the Google Play Store before being pulled from the platform…

The Google Play Store hosted a fake WhatsApp app long enough for over one million people to download it. The suspect app, named Update WhatsApp Messenger, looked precisely liked the official native app. Developer WhatsApp Inc. uploaded it to the digital store, according to a recent report by The Hacker News.

Google Play Store Fake WhatsApp App Downloaded more than 1 Million Times

The developer purportedly appended a Unicode character space to the WhatsApp Inc. name to fool the system. The copycat bamboozled more than one million device owners, who believed they downloaded a legitimate version of the Facebook subsidiary. It looks like the real chat client but its real objective is to trick users into clicking on third-party ads. Thereby, unleashing malicious software on their devices.

A tech-savvy Redditor downloaded it and then decompiled it. The findings were not unsurprising. The fake is merely an “ad-loaded wrapper,” which contains an additional APK. The developer went through great lengths to fool users into downloading the app. Here’s a screenshot of how it appeared in the Google Play Store:

fake WhatsApp app screenshot

Google has not released an official statement on the fake. But, the search giant did tell The Register it is actively investigating the matter.