Fake apps in the Play Store are nothing new. We've seen countless fakes hit the Store, many of which contained some form of malware used to steal user data, or worse, charge premium features to their bill. A Latvian firm is now being fined for the latter due to fake apps designed to look like Angry Birds Space, Cut the Rope, and Assassin's Creed.

After downloading one of the aforementioned apps, though, the user wasn't greeted by flying birds or a hungry frog, but instead... nothing. The apps did absolutely nothing in the foreground. Little did the users who installed these apps know that they were being scammed behind the scenes.

In all actuality, the apps charged users £15 using premium SMS services. What's worse, the end user was none the wiser until they got their bill.

Now, however, the company responsible for the shortcode that made these shady apps possible is being forced to pay a £50,000 (about $78k) fine and refund the money to all the 1,391 users who were hit with the fraudulent charges.

While the apps were removed from the Store by Google long ago, it's nice to see scumbags like this finally have to start paying for their shady, dishonest behavior. Hopefully we'll start to see more fines like this put into place to deter future wrong-doers from attempting to use malicious code for their own benefit.


Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Tyler Chappell

    These apps should be on iOS where they belong.
    Oh wait, there's a place for that that already likes taking your money and offers no refunds, it's called the App Store.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1745689461 Hal Motley

      That's a lot of hate Tyler, needless to say I have only bought one app off the App Store that I really regret and that was a crappy PDF reader (the Android Adobe one isn't any better).  Anyway apps in the App Store are checked rigorously, when a developer submits/updates one it can take a week for it to appear due to Apple checking it through (do Play do the same?)

      I am not a huge Apple fanboy and much prefer Android but I don't think the App Store is a bad thing. Though I know I am in a minority as most users on this site prefer WP7 (which I hate!).

      • http://www.facebook.com/andresdroid Andres Schmois

        There's no need for rigorous testing. While quality may be higher, the flexibility of the Play Store when uploading apps sounds like a much less pain-less and productive way of publishing apps. Apple takes away your freedom, charges you for it, and makes you wait. Google gives you freedom to do whatever you want, and when you do illegal things you get fucked up the ass and you get fined 50k.

      • Skillit

        Apps on the app store aren't checked rigorously as you said, they're just checked,but various app that shouldn't have passed pass and various the should have don't.
        Just look and you will find several reports of fake, copied and malicious apps appearing on the Apple App Store, the Play Store offers a different approach and like all approaches it has it's ups and down's.The case of comparing the two app stores really proves that those who choose safety over freedom get none.

        And I don't know from where do you take that people on this site prefer WP7, the user here prefer Android, and truth to be told, while the are a lot of hate for Apple this hate is most due to the company attitude not the quality of it's products because, lets be honest, WP7 is hands down the worst mobile OS in the market.

        • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

          Well, I'm not going to bother arguing points (nobody will really care), but I can honestly say from my own experience that WP7 is more enjoyable to use than iOS from an interface standpoint.  Other than some really glaring oversights that they botched pretty badly, Microsoft has a nice start with WP7, it just has a really long way to go.  In a way, it's like a prettier version of the original versions of iOS and Android.  Of course, it's still little more than a stop-gap at the moment until they start releasing a phone version of Windows 8.

          Also, the perception that people here 'prefer wp7' came from a poll a few months back that asked what readers would do if Android suddenly ceased to exist...The last time I looked the majority answer seemed to swing for WP7.

          • Goldenpins

            (nobody will really care)

            Not true. I always pay attention your post.

          • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

            @Goldenpins:disqus thanks man, love to hear that...but I just meant that nobody here is going to care about Windows Phone 7.  When it's almost nipping at the heels of 3.5% share of the smartphone market, it's not exactly a subject most people are curious about.  I just don't think it's "hands down the worst"...not when RIM is still pushing BBOS, and I think WP7 is fundamentally better than iOS (even though that may not be entirely clear to regular people).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1745689461 Hal Motley

    Good to see my country's currency on an AP report! XD (BTW, £50,000 is about $78,480)

    I am glad to see that those apps got their asses booted, but I feel that if the Play Store was better at app quality assurance then there would be much less of these damn rogue applications.

    It certainly is sadly on my Android improvement list!

  • Scott

    So who exactly fined them, and who does the developer have to pay? 

  • Aaron

    23 dollars, Americans ;) 

  • Edd

    There's a lot to talk about here but I'll keep my answer short.

    I always felt Google should do two markets: Google Play, which is for apps which ave proven their worth via, say, more than a thousand ratings of mainly five stars, more than 10,000 ratings of four stars, etc. Basically some kind of system where your typical, niave user, does not have to wade insecurely through crap for good apps.

    Secondly, Google release a Google Play Beta, which is for new apps/beta apps etc. where more advanced users can test the waters. If the apps are deemed non-suspicious over time or get good ratings, they get 'promoted' to the mass-public Google Play.

    obviously, think of your own parameters or boundaries but I hope you get my drift.