Google has suspended a fraudulent mobile app that claimed to offer system-level Android updates to smartphones.
While the app on the Google Play Store, called “Updates for Samsung,” did indeed redistribute Samsung’s software, it was also a scam to get users to pay money for the updates.
As a result, Google told The Verge that the app violated its policies and has been “suspended.”
“Providing a safe and secure experience is a top priority and our Google Play developer policies strictly prohibit apps that are deceptive, malicious, or intended to abuse or misuse any network, device, or personal data. When violations are found, we take action,” the tech giant said in a statement.
In addition, the developer of the app, Updato, claimed that it was pulling the app to “remove the firmware service portion and non Google payments,” although it said that the app was a “convenience to our audience.”
Before it was pulled, the app had more than 10 million downloads. It also boasted a suspiciously high user rating for a scam app (nearly four stars), which means it could also have been manipulating the Google Play Store’s analytics. It’s also important to note, however, that the app has been around for six years, so it’s possible that a large number of people did download it over time.
While it’s surprising that Google didn’t realize the app was a scam for so long, it makes sense that it was able to attract a good number of users by offering OS-level updates for Samsung Android phones, which people typically have to wait long periods for before they become available. CSIS’s Aleksejs Kuprins added that a “user can feel a bit lost about the [system] update procedure. Hence [they] can make a mistake of going to the official application store to look for system update.”