Crypto Scam Apps Hit With Google Crackdown

Key Takeaways

  • Google filed a lawsuit against Yunfeng Sun and Hongnam Cheung for for listing scam apps on Google Play.
  • Fake crypto exchanges were among the fraudulent apps.
  • The alleged fraudsters not only hurt victims financially, but also threatened the integrity of the app store, Google claims.

Google has accused two alleged fraudsters of listing fake apps on Google Play as part of a series of crypto investment scams.

In a lawsuit  filed on Thursday, April 4, Google claimed Yunfeng Sun and Hongnam Cheung created at least 87 fraudulent apps since 2019, listing new ones as fast as the firm could take them down.

Fraudsters Accused of Making Fake Crypto Exchanges

In the lawsuit, Google described some of the apps that allegedly formed part of Sun and Cheung’s crypto scam operation.

One such application, TionRT, purported to be a cryptocurrency exchange.

Victims were allegedly manipulated into depositing funds by the two Chinese nationals. They would allegedly use romance scam tactics to coax people into making investments and then withdrawing a small amount of profit.

Although the app seemed legitimate on the surface, “victims eventually realized that it was a Scam,” the lawsuit states. It said:

“Later withdrawals were not successful. When users tried to withdraw larger amounts of their “earnings,” they were told to pay more money. When victims complained to the “friend” or “romantic partner” who had so helpfully guided them through the process, the “friend” or “romantic partner” would simply disappear.”

SkypeWallet Crypto Scam App

Another fake crypto exchange the fraudsters used was SkypeWallet, Google claimed.

To promote SkypeWallet, the perpetrators of the scheme allegedly created marketing videos that claimed the platform was the only place to buy “SkypeCoin”. This was a a fake cryptocurrency that erroneously promised to deliver high returns for investors.

As in the case of TionRT, “the users Defendants enticed were quickly scammed out of their money,” Google alleges.  It went on to say: “Not only did Defendants fail to make good on the guaranteed returns they had boasted, but users soon discovered that they could not withdraw their money as promised.” 

Fraudulent Apps “Threaten the Integrity” of Google Play

Through a series of fake crypto exchanges, investment apps and Ponzi schemes, the lawsuit claims approximately 100,000 Google Play users downloaded apps created by Sun and Cheung.

Although the company didn’t identify the value of victims’ losses, it cited reports  from the Ghanaian Press Agency that claimed the Starlight App was responsible for defrauding Ghanaians out of millions of cedi. 

“The Fraud Scheme also harms Google, by threatening the integrity of its Play platform, compelling Google to spend resources investigating and remediating this misconduct in order to protect its users, and jeopardizing Google’s relationship with its current and potential users.”

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