Even though the Play Store is moderated to ensure that dodgy, malicious apps don’t make it through the gates and onto people’s devices, it’s not a completely foolproof system. Virus Shield, a relatively new app that claimed to protect users from viruses and other such non-niceties, has scammed many folks out of their money because, at $3.99 a pop, it didn’t actually provide any speakable anti-virus features. Although it has since been ousted by the search giant after being exposed, it remains to be seen whether the 10,000+ customers that parted with the substantial sum will see any kind of refund.
Google’s Play Store policy on apps being flagged for removal is inherently flawed in that it only caters to ‘malicious’ apps, rather than those that are just misleading. As a result, in this case, some 10,000 people have paid $3.99 for anti-virus software that serves only as a vanity anti-virus app that looks the part, but doesn’t offer anything substantial in defense against the baddies.
In its short stint as a fully-fledged app, Virus Shield was a genuine success, hitting the number one spot in the new paid apps chart, but unfortunately, it was nothing but an elaborate ruse to get as many people as it could to stump up the fee.
It’s not that the app wasn’t a very good security app, but rather that it wasn’t a security app in any way, shape or form. The app consisted of a shield icon that would show a large, obvious ‘X’ that signaled some kind of malicious infiltration. After a little ‘work’ in removing the threats, the ‘X’ mark was no more, and a device was declared to be safe.
In actual fact, the technique was quite clever in that it lead a user to believe that there was initially something afoot, and once the ‘X’ was removed and the device had been given the all-clear, it’s no wonder that most felt as though the $3.99 was money well spent. In fact, Virus Shield even managed to yield an average score of 4.7/5 on the Google Play Store, and with few seemingly having checked its credentials prior to the Android Police report, it’s of little surprise that many folks unwittingly paid up to be a part of the façade.
As yet, there’s been no official word from Google, but the Android maker certainly needs to tighten its grip on these kinds of outbreaks, which are becoming increasingly common as scammers look to exploit the loophole.
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