Fake WhatsApp app dupes over a million Google Play users.
You may want to take a pause the next time you pick up your phone to make an app purchase. Smartphones and their accompanying apps are supposed to make our lives easier. Apps have become the new age problem solvers. Got an issue? There’s probably an app for that. But for many users, the apps have become the problem. Fake apps have been popping up more and more. This one involves a WhatsApp lookalike.
In November 2017, more than a million Google Play users downloaded a phony Android app called ‘Update WhatsApp Messenger.’ By all accounts, it looked like the real thing. Even the developer’s name had the same title as the legitimate app—WhatsApp Inc. However, upon closer inspection, some users took to Reddit to expose the fraud. While the developer name looked like ‘WhatsApp Inc.,’ it included hidden code. Its actual name was ‘WhatsApp+Inc.%C2%A0.’ This truth could only be seen in the URL.
After the discovery, the scamming developer removed the ‘WhatsApp Inc.’ name. The app title was also changed to ‘Dual Whatsweb Update.’ However, Google has since suspended the developer from the site. Still many users were left uneasy about the scheme. Unfortunately, they are not the only ones as fake apps continue to be a growing problem on the Google Play platform. According to The Economist, more than half of the top 50 apps on Google Play included bogus ones. Many of the apps imitate popular apps like Netflix, Google Translate, and more. Most fake app developers are looking to make a quick buck through ads. This was the case with ‘Update WhatsApp Messenger.’ However, many other phony apps are laced with malware.
In April 2017, fake Pokemon Go and Fifa guide apps infected more than two million Android users with malware. The malware can do a variety of damage to users. Some can take control of devices, according to some experts. Typically, they are designed for theft such as by stealing online banking passwords. A new trend of app malware is geared for cryptocurrency mining which eats up a computer’s resources.
It can be a challenge to distinguish a real app from a fake one. Users are advised to take their time before downloading an app. Check the rating and number of reviews and read through them. Though ‘Update WhatsApp Messenger’ had a 4-star average rating and over 6,000 reviews, there were bound to be truthful reviews in the mix. It might be useful to look at the lowest reviews first to search for any indication for complaints of fraud. Customers should also be especially mindful at the end of the year when fraudsters amp up their game during the holiday season.