Google accuses two developers for the 87 fraudulent crypto apps inserted in its store



Google has sued two of its developers who allegedly inserted 87 fraudulent crypto apps into its Google Play store. 

Google and the 87 fraudulent crypto apps inserted in its store by the two accused developers

According to what reported, it seems that the search engine giant Google has sued two developers for inserting 87 fraudulent crypto apps in its Google Play.

The two accused are Yunfeng Sun and Hongnam Cheung and would have acted in the last four years, inserting scam apps involving cryptocurrencies. 

Specifically, it seems that the 87 fraudulent crypto apps have affected at least 100,000 people, including 8,700 based in the USA. 

Basically, developers induced victims to download the app that claimed to provide investments in cryptocurrencies. When victims then tried to withdraw their funds, fraudulent crypto apps asked them to pay high fees to cover the cost of initial investments and profits. 

And in fact, these additional fees ranged from 10% to 30% for each withdrawal of user funds. 

Here’s what Google wrote in the document filed with the Southern District of New York:

“The defendants and their agents designed fraudulent apps made available on Google Play to appear legitimate. Their user interfaces sought to convince victims that they were maintaining balances on the app and earning ‘returns’ on their investments. But these claims were false. The apps were not actual trading platforms; they only existed to siphon off users’ money, with which the scammers would then flee.”

Google used to make fraudulent crypto apps appear legitimate

Google claims to have been used by the two scammers to make their fraudulent crypto apps appear “legitimate”. 

Not only that, during these four years of activity of the two accused developers, as soon as Google managed to identify fraudulent crypto apps, it removed them from its store.

Unfortunately, however, developers were able to hide their identities and their network infrastructure to insert new apps into the Google Play Store.

Anyway, for Google, the two developers would have violated the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) law, carried out online frauds and violated various policies on Google platforms.

The Pig Butchering scam technique

According to Google, the two developers would have also used the scam technique of “pig butchering“.

This is a type of “romantic fraud”, where scammers try to gain the victim’s trust through seemingly friendly or romantic relationships, in order to then persuade them to invest in a fraudulent financial scheme. It is called this way because the victim is “fattened up” before being “slaughtered”. 

In this regard, Google was not the only one to act as a “legitimate front” for this type of scams. In fact, at the end of November 2023, the US DOJ would have discovered other romantic scams that used crypto.

Basically, scammers targeting investors through carefully crafted websites have been discovered, making them believe they could earn a lot of money. 

Through these websites that acted as a “legitimate front” , scammers were able to involve unsuspecting victims and persuade them to send them cryptocurrencies, which they then stole.

The US DOJ has managed to seize nearly 9 million dollars in crypto, thanks to the help of the crypto company Tether, which collaborated to trace the funds sent to scammers in USDT.