The app install fraud is broadly used for the following:
• To upgrade an existing application that was already purchased, with a new version of the same application.
• To charge users who have already legitimately purchased an app or in-app content with additional fees to acquire the same content or features that were already provided to them.
Even companies such as Google are falling victim to these scams as they’re allowing �fake’ apps and subscriptions for users on their Play Store.
Play Store’s top app install fraud Problem with App Install Fraud
If a user wishes to acquire an app that is on the Play Store, they either have to purchase it through the app store (generally followed by a one-off cost or an in-app purchase) or download it for free and have the option to pay for it within the application. Apps that grant users access for free but charge them after are considered as ‘apps with in-app purchases. Apps with in-app purchases, especially subscriptions, are a huge problem for app developers as it is difficult for users to distinguish whether these apps are real or not.
How top app install fraud affects paid apps?
For paid apps that offer an in-app purchase such as a subscription, it is hard to differentiate between real and fake apps. If a user downloads the app but fails to pay their subscription fee and they don’t receive any support from the developer. They could assume that the app is fake and delete it from the Play Store. On the other hand, if they do pay for the subscription, they would get charged multiple times. The company that is running this scam could be offering some free in-app content to entice users to download it or provide them with additional services like adding games. Once users download the app and provide their personal information, they would then receive a monthly bill of around $30 to $50. If they don’t want to pay this amount, they could assume that they have been scammed, or that the app is fake and delete it from the Play Store.
How are top app install fraud getting past Play Store security?
Apps with in-app subscriptions are being able to get past Google Play’s security because users do not see who has actually developed these fake apps. This is mostly due to the fact that app developers often do not have the financial resources and time to create an official version of their apps. For example, if a user downloads an app called “Poweramp” which promises users to be able to turn their devices into smartphones with just one click, it is very likely that it could be a scam.
What makes apps so difficult to recognize as fake?
App developers simply cannot produce quality apps without money. This means that they are unable to create actual apps, and instead have to settle for a fake version of their app which is often much easier to create.
As app developers cannot develop the actual apps, they end up submitting apps that are made with the use of a template where it is just re-sized and re-branded. These templates are easily available on the internet and can be purchased at a cost of $50 or less.
For these apps to be as effective, they also have to be recognizable. This means that they need a logo and a name, which is usually generated using an app branding software. These are also easily available online via various forums or even Google Play itself.
Once the app has all of its brandings, the developers then have to fill out the metadata for their app. The main problem is that many developers who are using this method are not able to complete this with Google’s standards in mind.