A couple of weeks ago, an app called Virus Shield was released into the Play Store and almost immediately jumped to the top of the paid app list with over 10,000 downloads. The app boasts the ability to “prevent harmful apps from being installed on your device”, can “scan apps, settings, files and media in real time” and “protects your personal information”, with “low impact on battery life”, all for a price of USD$3.99. Sounds good doesn’t it? That was what those 10,000 users who downloaded it thought but unfortunately, it is a fake app that does absolutely nothing at all.
Google was informed about the problem and on top of refunding back users the $3.99 they spent on the app, the company is also offering an extra $5 dollar credit to affected users.
When the app crawled its way to the top spot, Android Police decided to do some investigation and found that all the app does is change from an “X” image to a “check” image after a single tap. Google acted quickly into removing the app from the Play Store just hours after Android Police published their findings, and is now refunding users and giving them extra Play Store credit as well.
We’re reaching out to you because you recently purchased the “Virus Shield” app on Google Play. This app made the false claim that it provided one-click virus protection; in reality, it did not.
Google Play’s policies strictly prohibit false claims like these, and in light of this, we’re refunding you for your “Virus Shield” purchase. You should see funds returned to your account within the next 14 days.
Additionally we’d like to offer you $5 promotional credit, which can be used to purchase digital content on Google Play such as apps, games, books, music and movies.
Your credit redemption code is XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. Click or tap here to redeem. For help redeeming, please visit our Help Center. We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused; rest assured that we’re always working to make Google Play better for our users.
Google Play Support”
As for the developer who made thousands of dollars for nothing, in an interview with The Guardian, they claim that Virus Shield was a “foolish mistake” and was mistakenly uploaded without the antivirus code. So how did an “empty” app get all the positive reviews and be updated from version 1.0 to 2.2 without the developer realizing that it in fact did nothing at all? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Meanwhile, the next time you download an app, especially a paid one, make sure you do proper research on it first and don’t end up exposing your entire device to the developer.