Millions of users of the Google Play store fell for scams involving a popular messaging app.
WhatApp is among the most popular apps out there with over one billion users worldwide. So it’s no surprise that scammers would use it to attempt to trick people.
These crooks managed to sneak multiple fake versions of the app into the Google Play store, the app store used by Android users. One scammer used a popular trick often employed by hackers to get you to download their malicious software, they added the words “update” so the app appeared as Update WhatsApp in the store.
Once installed, the sneaky app doesn’t display an icon, so you’d have no idea it was even there.
Security researcher Nicholas Chrsadios displayed icons for the multiple fake versions of the app he discovered in his Twitter feed.
One of these sneaky downloads was fraudulently listed as coming from the actual developer of WhatsApp and had racked up over 1 million downloads.
One way to spot the actual WhatsApp app is that it has over 1 billion downloads.
A fake app, depending on the permissions it is granted, could infect your phone with ads, steal your data, and even monitor your communications.
If you’re not sure if you have the legitimate version of WhatsApp, or if you think you might have installed one of the fakes, try opening up the Google Play Store and tapping the three-bar icon at the top left.
Choose My apps & games.
Then tap on Installed. Scroll down and look to see if you have one or more versions of WhatsApp installed.
Tap on the left side of the screen (not the open button) to check out the app.
The actual WhatsApp app will have over 1 billion downloads. If yours does not, it’s not the real thing. You’ll want to hit the Uninstall button.
Even if you don’t use WhatsApp, it’s very popular, especially among younger people. So, make sure to give your friends a heads-up.
Clearly, Google is going to have to do a better job policing their own app store.