Another popular Android application has been found to be defrauding its customers on a large scale. This seems to be the trend in Android application developers with each scam becoming more ominous. This time, the application SnapTube has been making the rounds. It is a video downloader that allows users to pick up videos from YouTube and Facebook and play them offline. the app claims over 400 million users and a lot more installations. It seems that while users enjoy the videos, the application software carefully defrauds the users and advertisers so as to generate financial returns.
This was noticed by Upstream, who said that their Secure-D platform detected and blocked over 700 million suspicious transaction requests from the application on 4.4 million devices where it had been downloaded within 6 months. The Upstream team has been tracking the app at the time of the spurt of activity.
Upstream says that SnapTube delivers invisible advertisements, which generate non-human clicks and purchases. These ads are hidden and do not appear on the screen at all. Generating returns from ads is one thing but fraud is a whole another. SnapTube also triggers premium calls and texts, adds subscriptions to expensive services and has cost users up to $91 million so far.
SnapTube belongs to Chinese Mobiuspace. The application hasn’t even made it onto the Play Store yet but has 40 million active users who have installed it from third-party stores.
The CEO of Upstream, Guy Keief, has described this operation as literally a screen for the suspicious background activity. The test conditions found background advertisement clocks and also other subscription service frauds for premium digital services when the phone is not even in use. It does not leave behind a trace such as notifications etc. and the user has no control over what it does.