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Google kills fake anti-virus app that hit No. 1 on Play charts

No ads! No battery drain! No functionality! And no credibility for Google's vetting process

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"Virus Shield", an app that briefly shot to the top of the charts on Google Play, has turned out to be a complete fake and has therefore been pulled by Google.

The scam, turned up by Android Police, is as simple as a con-man could wish for: the app includes almost no functionality whatever, yet it was briefly a chart-topper on Google Play, something that at $US3.99 for the download.

According to Appbrain, the software sailed past 10,000 downloads, putting its take at close to $US40,000 for nothing at all. The Register says “almost no functionality” because the app does just one thing: it changes its icon when you tap it, pretending to be checking your phone for viruses.

As Android Police says: “this is such a brazen and expensive fake that we felt the need to give it some special attention. It's somewhat disheartening that an app so obviously fake could rise to the top, especially considering that it's paid, and possibly hundreds or thousands of people have been defrauded already.”

To prove the point, they've posted the decompiled Java code at github.

El Reg would note that at least two of the claims made by the software – low battery consumption and no ads – are true. Along with the legitimate complaint that a scam app like this should never have made it onto Google Play, The Register would also ask why a developer could get away with apparently operating under a fake identity. ®

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