Angry Birds scam took aim to European cellphones

angry birds scam took aim to european cellphones angrybirdsThe craze for Angry Birds has led to more than a thousand Britons falling for phone scams that has seen them be charged up to £15 ($23.48 at current conversion rates) just for opening fake versions of the game, as well as other mobile games such as Assassin’s Creed and Cut The Rope that were available on Google’s official Google Play platform.

Each of the 27 different Android apps pretending to be official editions of popular games included RuFraud malware that, despite the apps being downloadable for free, would charge the user each time the game was opened, with the total cost of the fraud being estimated in the region of £27,850 (Around $43,6000) all told. The scam was discovered by Lookout Mobile Security, who contacted Google and managed to have the apps removed as quickly as possible.

According to Lookout, the scam affected users in 18 different countries (In addition to the UK, users in Italy, France, Israel, Germany, Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Czech Republic, Poland, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Latvia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Estonia all downloaded the apps) with the apps being listed under six different developers to throw off security scanning from Google.

The UK’s premium rate phone regulator, PhonePay Plus, described the methodology of the scam in a statement: “These fake apps were advertised as free but contained malicious coding (malware) that charged the phone’s account £15 every time the app was opened (usually charged through three £5 premium rate texts),” it explained. “The malware suppressed the sent and received text messages that notify users they have been charged. It was only when consumers received their bill that they were alerted to the fraudulent charges.”

It’s not all bad news, however; PhonePay Plus managed to not only prevent money being paid to the scammers, but also identify the scammers as a Latvian company calling itself A1 Agregator. The company is £50,000, as well as orders to refund any money that it has managed to take from users as a result of the fake apps within three months or face further action.

Worryingly, PhonePay Plus believes that this scam may have been the start of something bigger. “These apps had coding to affect 18 countries and can be seen as part of an experiment to see where these attacks were successful in delivering revenue,” the organization said. The takeaway message? Be careful about the apps you download for your phone – and check your cellphone bills closely, just in case.


Think iPhones can’t get viruses? Our expert explains why it could happen

If your iPhone has been acting strangely, then you may be concerned about the possibility it is infected with a virus or some malware. We take a look at just how likely that is and explain why iOS is considered relatively safe.

Google Fi: Phones, plans, pricing, perks, and more explained

Google's wireless service, formerly Project Fi, now goes by the name of Google Fi, and it's now compatible with a majority of Android phones, as well as iPhones. Here's everything you need to know about Google Fi.

Rooting your Android device is risky. Do it right with our handy guide

Wondering whether to root your Android smartphone or stick with stock Android? Perhaps you’ve decided to do it and you just need to know how? Here, you'll find an explanation and a quick guide on how to root Android devices.

Most Android antivirus apps fail to provide malware protection, study shows

A study by AV-Comparatives analyzed the effectiveness of Android antivirus apps in protecting against the 2,000 most common malware threats. Alarmingly, only 23 of the apps were able to detect 100 percent of the malware samples.

Get your hands (and ears) on Apple’s new AirPods — here’s where to find them

Apple's new AirPods with wireless charging are the latest version of the much-loved wireless earbuds. Unfortunately, they aren't widely available yet. Here's where you can find them right now, and where they will show up soon.

You can now use the innovative Red Hydrogen One on Google Fi

The Red Hydrogen One was first announced in 2017 and has been delayed a few times since then. Now, the Red Hydrogen One is finally available, featuring a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage.
Product Review

There’s almost nothing bad to say about the Mi Mix 3, but you still shouldn’t buy it

The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is good-looking, really well made, packed with features, and is a powerful, modern, desirable smartphone. But you probably shouldn’t buy it. Why? Nothing wrong with the device itself, but Xiaomi itself is mostly to…

Apple’s AirPower wireless charging mat may be coming soon

At its September event in 2017, Apple unveiled the AirPower, a new wireless charging mat that will allow you to charge multiple devices at one time. It has not yet been released. Here's everything we know about the device so far.

The best Apple AirPods alternatives for Android, Windows, and iOS devices

Apple AirPods might be new and improved, but they aren't the only game in town. Other makers are offering their own truly wireless earbuds, with attractive features. These are the best AirPod alternatives on the market today.

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.

The latest Google Doodle lets you create Bach-like music of your own

Google is celebrating the life of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, and to that end the company has released a new Google Doodle that allows you to create Bach-like melodies and harmonies of your own.

Amazon’s new Kindle has an adjustable light and costs less than $100

Amazon has taken the wraps off of a new Kindle model, which boasts a number of great features and comes at a very affordable price. Perhaps the best thing about the new Kindle is that the device has an adjustable.

Apple iPad Air vs. iPad (2018): Which Apple tablet is right for you?

The new iPad Air replaces the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, but it doesn't pack quite the same punch. It is a fair bit cheaper, starting at $500, but it's a lot more expensive than Apple's 9.7-inch iPad which starts at $330. If you're shopping for…
Social Media

Facebook Messenger adds quoted replies to better organize group chats

Facebook is rolling out a feature that should help make group chats a whole lot more organized. The feature allows you to reply to specific messages within a group chat, so others will be able to tell what you're replying to.