Popular Android anti-virus app found to be a scam, gets booted from Play Store (update)

google kicks out scam app play store virus shield

Updated on 4-22-14 by Williams Pelegrin: Google is sending out emails to those who downloaded the app, saying that not only will they get refunds, but they will be given an additional $5 Play Store credit. The post below has been edited to reflect this.

Google has removed the highly-rated Virus Shield for Android from its Play Store after it was revealed that the app is a scam. According to Android Police, Virus Shield, which once occupied the top spot in the Play Store’s paid apps charts, is “a complete and total scam.”

“We don’t mean in the slightly skeevy way that some anti-virus and general security software overstates danger and its own necessity. We mean it’s literally a fake security app: the only thing that it does is change from an ‘X’ image to a ‘check image after a single tap.’ That’s all,” Android Police’s report read. As added proof, the website has put the app’s Java code on display via Github

The app, which had a $4 price tag and a 4.7-star rating, was downloaded more than 10,000 times during its two week stint in the Play Store. The app claimed that it “protects you and your personal information from harmful viruses, malware, and spyware.” It also promised to “improve the speed of your phone with one click.” 

Virus Shield’s developer, Deviant Solutions, did not leave much of a trace. However, the developer’s email address, Jesse_Carter@live.com, turned up as a banned account at Sythe.org, a website for exchanging virtual goods such as World of Warcraft gold and Runescape items. The user, “InceptionDeviant,” was banned for scamming people out of game items. 

The scam has highlighted Google’s shortcomings when it comes to the vetting of apps in its online marketplace. Not only was Deviant Solutions able to sell a worthless app, it was also able to cloak itself in anonymity. Google had recently updated its Google Play Developer Program Policy in an effort to protect users. However, the changes mostly addressed shady advertising and affiliate schemes and had no guidelines regarding the effectiveness of apps.

In response to the scam, Google is sending out emails to those affected. Because the app made false claims, thus violation the Play Store policy, Google is issuing refunds to those who purchased the app. In addition to the refund, Google is handing out an additional $5 Play Store credit.

Mobile

iOS jailbreak app store Cydia shuts down purchasing

For years, iOS users have been jailbreaking their devices to install software not approved by Apple. But now the popular app store alternative Cydia will no longer be accepting purchases.
Mobile

How to switch from iPhone to Android: The ultimate guide

If you've decided to bridge the great tech divide and leave Apple's walled garden for the unknown shores of Android, then you'll find all the tips and advice you need to begin switching from an iPhone to an Android device.
Mobile

Need to record calls on an iPhone? Check out our handy guide

Are you wondering how to record calls on your iPhone? It isn't as easy as you might think, but we'll walk you through the process of doing so with Google Voice, and identify several other apps and external voice recorders that can help.
Home Theater

These top-line smart speakers conduct the most sophisticated symphony: Your life

Stuck talking to yourself? Get an A.I. assistant to keep you company! Whether you put your stock in Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri, we've picked out the best smart speaker for any smart home ecosystem.
Mobile

Santa Claus is coming to town. Get ready with these Christmas apps

Like it or not, Christmas comes but once a year. Thankfully, we've got a list of the best Christmas apps to help get you into the holiday spirit, just in case you want to call Santa or become a Christmas elf.
News

Lawsuit alleges Apple falsely advertised the screen size of the iPhone X

A lawsuit alleges that Apple was dishonest in the way that it marketed the iPhone X. The lawsuit alleges that despite Apple's marketing campaign, the new iPhone is not in fact all screen because of the notch.
Business

Apple is still selling iPhones in China despite being ordered not to

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Mobile

Is somebody watching you? How to stop apps from tracking your location

If you don't like the idea of your every movement being tracked by apps on the phone in your pocket, then you may want to turn location tracking off. We take a look at how to do it on an iPhone or Android phone in this easy guide.
Mobile

Report: Samsung's upcoming foldable phone will cost a hefty $1,800

Samsung has been showcasing bendable display tech for a few years and now a folding smartphone might finally arrive. The Galaxy X, or perhaps the Galaxy F, may be the company's first example. Here's everything we know about it.
Smart Home

Starbucks teams with Uber Eats for delivery from 2,000 of its U.S. stores

Starbucks has teamed up with Uber Eats to offer customers deliveries from almost a quarter of its stores in the U.S. The major expansion launches early next year, making life even easier for fans of the coffee giant.
Mobile

Huawei Nova 4 has a hole in the screen, and a 48-megapixel camera on the back

Huawei has launched the Nova 4, a new smartphone that has abandoned the screen notch and adopted a punch hole alternative, and also has a massive 48-megapixel camera. Here's what you need to know about the Nova 4.
Mobile

Black hole in the screen of Samsung's new Galaxy A8s has a camera inside

Samsung is building exciting, technologically innovative midrange phones, and the latest to be revealed is the new Samsung Galaxy A8s, which may give us an idea of what the new Samsung Galaxy S10 will look like.
Mobile

Score a Christmas deal with Speck’s half-off sale on its entire range of cases

The holidays might be nearing, but bargains don't take time off. To celebrate the last day for U.S. ground shipping, Speck will be offering a sitewide 50-percent-off deal for one day only on Monday December 17.
Mobile

Doubts emerge over when LG will reveal its folding smartphone

LG may be working on a folding smartphone, making it the latest device manufacturer to be linked to the technology, which may become one of the standout designs of the coming year.