back to article Google sues app devs, claims they're Play Store crypto scammers with 100k+ victims

Google is suing two Chinese app developers claiming they allegedly spent years creating fraudulent cryptocurrency investment apps that were downloaded from its Play Store. According to a Google complaint filed earlier this week, Yunfeng Sun, AKA Alphonse Sun, and Hongnam Cheung, AKA Zhang Hongnim and Stanford Fischer, from …

  1. David 132 Silver badge


    "Social engineering often involved. Check. Sometimes romance scams play a role. Check. Victims strung along and forced to pay more money to regain their lost funds. Check."

    Crypto apps that just happen to be a scam: check, check, and check. Colour me unsurprised.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Checklist

      If only those currencies had some form of regulation...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good, but...

    ...when will they go after the "I was poor but downloaded this game and now make thousands of US dollars a day just playing it" scams? Get any "free", ad-infested game and you'll get some ads like this.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Good, but...

      If you're in the UK, you'll NEVER see scam ads on the internet, because the ASA does its job


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Scam Ads

        And who is one of the biggest SCAM AD slinger?

        None other than Google with its YouTube platform. There are dozens of them and Google/YouTube has the gaul to ask you to stop using an Ad Blocker.

        Talk about a Kettle calling a Pot Black?

        Google sucks and needs to be broken up or closed down.

      2. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Good, but...

        I think you were missing this icon --->

        The sanction for publishing an illegal ad is a sternly worded letter telling you not to do it again.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: Good, but...

          I used "</sarc>", but admittedly, I didn't open the tag!

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    crypto scam

    Some tautology there, surely?

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "an injunction to prevent [them] from ever accessing Google services again"

    Um, how exactly is that supposed to work ? It's not like you give your name and address when you use a browser.

    They'll always be able to sign up for a new gmail account under a fake name, that's not controlled either.

    So this injunction is just legal waffling. I don't see how it can be enforced, especially when the culprits aren't on US soil.

  5. ChrisElvidge Bronze badge


    I thought the idea behind the play store was that apps were curated before being allowed on the site. If that's not working, surely that's Google's fault. (See also Apple.)

    1. froggreatest

      Re: PlayStore

      It feels like this approach Google took was to whitewash this issue. I mean will people even get their money back if Google wins? What about other scams?

    2. Bendacious

      Re: PlayStore

      87 scam apps added to the Play Store and I’m guessing the code was barely different between each one. The victims would have felt they had some protection using a curated app store. Does this lawsuit exist to show judges in future cases that Google tries really hard to stop scammers? I hope the victims try to get some redress from Google.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: PlayStore

      If the app siphons away your credentials and spies on you, that's something that can be enforced. If the business model is fraudulent, that's hardly something that app stores can control...

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: PlayStore

        I would generally agree, but that's what both Apple and Google say they do every time someone suggests that maybe they shouldn't have a monopoly (Apple) or near monopoly (Google) on app distribution. They say they're inspecting apps for dodgy content, and I'm not just talking about a scan for known malware files. We know that, to the extent they're doing it, it's a minor automated scan, but if they're promising to catch things they won't, it's fair to point out when they fail to keep that promise. They can switch to telling the truth: "We run a few programs over the package and if they pass, the app goes up, but those scans are better than nothing which is what you get if you download from some site." whenever they want. They'll probably start to lose the monopoly cases if they do, but that doesn't stop their version from being dishonest.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: PlayStore

      Yeah, I'm nor sure how Google can claim they "spent" $75,000 investigating the scam. Isn't that just the cost of doing business when running an app store that they claim they try to protect? If they feel the need to sue over $75,000, it makes it seem like that's a significant chunk of the "monitoring and security" budget. Considering the size of the operation, that $75,000 should be a tiny blip on the budget sheet, so as per some other comments, there's some other ulterior motive for Google to be doing this.

  6. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Google discovers genuine crypto app in Play Store

    Google today announced that they have discovered a crypto app in their Play Store that somehow appears to be completely genuine. Senior executive Bill Dew said "It's amazing. This app deals in what looks to be a currency that somebody just made up, but is actually worth something despite being backed by nothing, and furthermore is held securely in a mature IT environment, and is immune to all forms of scam. So far, everybody who's invested has made a fortune, and yet their original capital is still intact. We've no idea how they managed to do this yet, but when we've found out, we fully intend to copy it and then ban all other similar apps from our platform and monopolise the market".

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Google discovers genuine crypto app in Play Store

      We've no idea how they managed to do this yet, but when we've found out, we fully intend to copy it and then ban all other similar apps from our platform and monopolise the market".

      While I fully take onboard the humour and irony in the above post, isn't that latter comment describing a process stolen directly from Apples play book and likely to get them flinging sue balls at Google for using their patented and trademarked business procedures without a licence?

  7. Necrohamster Silver badge

    I've never heard stories about crypto scam apps like this being deployed on the Apple app store.

    if you're going to give app developers too much leeway, you're going to have to expect scammers to take advantage.

  8. ateeth

    Google doesn't check the source code? They don't verify that the functionality works as is? They don't have any systems to flag 87 similar scam apps? Like yeah these scammers are in the wrong too, but Google is trying to absolve themselves of blame when they could've easily prevented this too.

  9. biodevm

    Where Google wants to go with this

    This is the best they can do?

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