Google has declared war on apps that try to deceive users. After obtaining a patent allowing it to detect rip-offs, the company has taken down “Virus Shield,” an app that made its way to the top of the charts on Google Play.
The issue with “Virus Shield,” an anti-virus app that costs $3.99 for the download, is that it's fake. The software had over 10,000 downloads, which means that the developers have made a lot of money for nothing, Android Police reports.
It looks like the app had almost no functionality aside from adding an icon to your screen. When tapped, the icon would change as if it was checking your phone for viruses.
The app’s description indicates that it prevents harmful apps from being installed on the device and that it scans apps, settings, files and media in real time, while protecting the users’ personal information.
The entire code of “Virus Shield” has been checked and posted on GitHub, showing that there are no security benefits for the tool.
Although version 1.0 was only released on March 28, with no intermediary updates, the app was at version 2.2 by April 3, which should have raised some suspicion in itself. The tool got an impressive 4.7 star rating from all downloads, although these were most likely fake for the most part.
The developer behind “Virus Shield” did not leave too much information about himself out there aside from an email address. The same address was used for an account on Sythe.org, which has been banned for a while. There, too, the user was accused of trying to scam people.
Unfortunately, there are probably a lot of people that were duped by the app and who have paid the required price to download it. The issue with security apps is that people usually trust them. In fact, most would rather pay a few bucks for some added layers of protection, rather than download an app that floods their system with ads.
In this particular case, this has proven to be a really bad idea since “Virus Shield” was just that – a shield. It did nothing to protect phones from viruses and attacks, but its icon, which was shaped like a shield changed when pressed.
This is an outright scam, an effort made by a shady developer to get tens of thousands of dollars while offering no benefit whatsoever.
Following the report from Android Police, Google has taken down the app.