When looking for apps to download in Google Play, people tend to go for the ones with the most downloads. Those with millions of installs are usually the most preferred option because you are convinced that they are the most reliable and trusted by many.
According to BleepingComputer, a software company called Dr.Web, a new category of activity-tracking apps on the Google Play Store is questionable. They claim to be health trackers and pedometers.
However, what makes these health-tracking apps so appealing to Android users that it has over 20 million downloads? If you use them, you get incentives while you get in shape with this tracker. They promise to give out cash rewards to those who reach certain goals with the app.
And what’s concerning is that even though these apps already received complaints of scamming, they are still available for download in the Google Play store.
The three apps mentioned in the report that are still in Google Play Store are as follows:
● Lucky Step – Walking Tracker (10 million downloads)
● WalkingJoy (5 million downloads)
● Lucky Habit: Health Tracker (5 million downloads)
It seems like all three apps share a common command and control server. Scammers are frequently using this type of command and control server to send instructions to infected computers. And for this reason alone, it’s clear that these apps were specifically created by the same developer.
So how do they carry out these scams? After you download and install the app, you will be required to watch all of the ads, and users would be advised to watch even more to “speed up” the rewards process. And the problem is that the app did not do as it promised and with some loopholes involved when it comes to its monetary rewards. Keep in mind that these deceitful developers are making more money when you watch their ads.
The report states that “the apps did not verify any of the payment-related data provided by users, so the chances of receiving any of the money promised from these apps are extremely small.”
It is also mentioned in the report that the Lucky Step-Walking Tracker already has a history of scamming people. It misled people into thinking that they could redeem the points they earned for gift cards to a variety of online retailers. Then, later on, the interface features that were previously used to convert awards into cash have been removed after a further app upgrade. This means that the value of any points that the users earned vanished.
Another popular health-tracking app on Google Play is called “Walking Joy.” This app is promising its users to give out $135 by simply walking. Now, this has been proven by money to be another scam. Many believe that it’s a scammy app created to get people to watch ads over and over again until they decide to stop.
Walking Joy runs on a ticket-based system where once a goal is completed, rewards will be given through tickets. They also have a feature where users can spin a prize wheel, and some scratch cards and even slot machine games are available too. Users are made to believe that they offer various cash-out options where users can earn up to $135. And as soon as you start using the app, advertisements will appear every 15 seconds. In fact, the developers have designed it in a way that even if the user is on their main menu, they will still see these advertisements.
What’s good about the app though is that it does pretty well when it comes to tracking your steps for each day. But that does not mean that users can just disregard how deceitful they were designed to be. The developers made it a point to ensure that users will not only be encouraged to earn by walking, but by playing the mini-games they offer as well.
Under the assumption that the app is promoting a healthy lifestyle, Lucky Habit was created to trick users into watching a large number of advertisements. The developers have made it too interesting that many were no longer into the healthy lifestyle suggestions and instead focus on accumulating virtual items they believe they could cash out.
Another app that users must steer clear of according to Dr.Web’s report is the FitStar app. You can still find this app in the Google Play Store. Some users have complained that after downloading and installing this app, its icon disappeared from their phones’ app lists, making it difficult to uninstall.
This fitness app creates a customized weight-loss plan for its users. They promised users to give access to the features by subscribing for only 29 rubles or 41 U.S. cents. Subscribers, however, were unaware that their membership would only be valid for a single day.
This means that the 29 rubles were only a trial period offer. Subscribers were charged 980 rubles ($13.86) after the trial period was up. Most users paid $98.98 (or 7,000 rubles) for four weeks of access to the FitStar app. What more is that their subscriptions were automatically renewed every four days.
These apps may seem harmless and reliable if you didn’t know the experience that others have gone through with them. That is why being extremely cautious when downloading and installing apps is your best defense against accessing malicious ones.
One thing you can do is while you’re on the Install page of the app, scroll down and take some time to read the reviews and comments from their users. Consider the ratings given because these can greatly help you decide whether or not these apps are truly safe to use.
Remember that these scammy apps do not only waste your money but also your time and effort. In addition, they also put your phone or other devices in jeopardy of malware. So the next time you want to download a fitness or health-tracking app, do your research before you risk it.