$350 000 USD

JULY 2021




"172 bogus Android applications [were] meant to be used for digital assets mining." "The applications were categorized into two distinct Android app divisions – BitScam and CloudScam. The bad actors allegedly designed them to target people interested in cryptocurrencies." "BitScam and CloudScam advertised crypto mining operations for a fee to the clients." "BitScam (83,800 installs) and CloudScam (9,600 installs), were advertised by the cybercriminals to victims as providing cloud cryptocurrency mining services." "What makes BitScam different is that its apps also accept Bitcoin and Ethereum as payment options."


BitScam names included Airdrop, BeMine, Bit Butter, Bit Mine, Bitco Mining, Bitcoin Blast, Bitcoin Blast Pro, Bitcoin Burn, Bitcoin Cloud, Bitcoin Doubler, Bitcoin Earn, Bitcoin Galaxy, Bitcoin Hasher, Bitcoin Machine, Bitcoin Matrix, Bitcoin Miner, Bitcoin Mining, Bitcoin Pro, Bitcoin Servers, Bitcoin Tunnel, BITCOIN WORLD, BitcoinCash Miner, BITGRAM, BitHash, Bitmining pro, Bitnex Miner, Bito Hash, Bito Holic, Bito Mamba, Bito Star, Bittorrent Earn, Black Bitcoin, Black BTC, Black Crypto, Black ETH, Black Ethereum, Bright Miner, BTC, BTC CLOUD MINING, BTC Doubler, BTC Hash, BTC HASH BLAST, BTC Machine, BTC Master, BTC MINE, BTC Miner, BTC POOL, BTC SERVERS, Btcminer pro, Btcminer prom, Cloud BTC, CLOUD COIN MINING, CLOUD ETH, Bloudy BTC, COIN MASTER, coinx, Crypto Cloud, crypto cloud mining pro, Crypto King, Crypto Money Inc, CryptoPlace, Dark Bitcoin, Doge Miner, Earn BTC, Earn Interest, Ethereum Cloud, Ethereum Machine, Ethereum Pool, EtherMine, ETHMINER PRO, FOX BTC, Free Doge, FOX BTC, GOLDEN ETHEREUM, Grand BTC, Hash Bit, HashCoin, HashFarm, HashFarm Pro, HashMine, HashStar, HashStar Bit, HONEY BEE MINER, Lite Miner, Litecoin Miner, Midcoin Cyripto Mining, Mining Pool, Moon Bat, Moon BTC, Mr Bitcoin, Multi Coins, Pink BTC, ProBitco, Ravencoin, Ripple Miner (XRP), Smart Coins, Star BTC, Top Coins, USD MINER, VirtualCPU, XMR Miner, and YFI Miner.


CloudScam names included Bito Miner, BTC Cash, BTC CLOUD, Cloud Mining, Crypto Pro Miner, Mining Machine, and My Application.


"[T]hose applications displayed minimum account balances to delude the users. Ioannis Gasparis – Lookout mobile app security researcher noted:"


“These apps were able to fly under the radar because they don’t actually do anything malicious. They are simply shells set up to attract users caught up in the cryptocurrency craze and collect money for services that don’t exist.”


"However, the apps did not provide the aforementioned services and pocketed the victim’s money." "Instead, the scammers filled up their wallets by selling the fake apps without actually providing any of the advertised services."


"Targets were lured into spending even more money on the apps using the promise of additional services and app upgrades, purchasable via cryptocurrency transfers straight to the scammers' crypto wallets or via the Play Store."


"Both CloudScam and BitScam also offer subscriptions and services related to crypto mining that users can pay for via the Google Play in-app billing system," Lookout explains.


"Scammers tricked at least 93,000 people into buying fake Android cryptocurrency mining applications." "[T]he apps turned out to scam at least 93,000 victims and embezzled some $350,000 from them." "The scammers used the fake Android apps to steal a total of over $350,000 ($300K in app sales and $50K in fake upgrades) from thousands of victims worldwide who bought the apps and paid for additional services and non-existent upgrades."


"Lookout revealed that 25 out of the 172 fake apps were available for download on Google Play." "Twenty-five of these fake apps were available in the Google Play Store, while those sold on third-party app stores could be side-loaded by victims on their Android devices."


"Subsequently, the cybersecurity firm launched a combined initiative with Google and removed the applications from the platform. Still, the cybersecurity firm warned that hundreds of them are available for download on third-party app stores." "Even though Google has already removed all the fake BitScam and CloudScam cryptomining apps found on the Play Store apps, Lookout says that dozens of them are still up for sale on third-party app stores around the web."


"A list of all BitScam and CloudScam apps, indicators of compromise (IOCs), additional technical details, and info on the number of Play Store installs per app are available in the Lookout report."

Hundreds of applications on the Google Play store claim to mine cryptocurrency, and in fact don't do any such function. Over 93,000 people downloaded these applications and believed they were accumulating cryptocurrency, some even purchasing upgrades to the application to improve their position.


In total, customers paid at least $350,000 to download these applications and didn't receive any cryptocurrency.


These fraudulent applications depend entirely on users who don't understand cryptocurrency. Users of cryptocurrency should take the time to educate themselves on the use of blockchain explorers, or discuss any software used with others who are more knowledgeable.


The vast majority of funds taken in this case would be traceable. The average loss per user is under $4. It makes more sense to pursue the fraudsters, remove the apps, and directly compensate those willing to prove they were affected given the small amount lost.


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Sources And Further Reading

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