Android users warned by security experts to delete three fitness apps right now
If you entered 2023 with a fitness-focused new year’s resolution, you might be among the millions who have downloaded active apps to stay motivated.
But cyber-experts are now warning that dodgy developers could be exploiting your health kick.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: The new hi-tech devices to keep your home safe and secure.
Watch the latest news and stream for free on 7plus >>
Three apps which claim to track and encourage healthy habits are actually serving advertisements and lies.
Pedometer and health tracking apps have been flagged by anti-virus company Doctor Web for claims that users can accrue virtual rewards which can then be exchanged for real money and online gift cards.
However, the developers have removed the applications’ functional ability to withdraw payment in a later update, which effectively means that users attempting to earn money using the app will find their balance becomes worthless.
Apart from being told they can earn these ‘virtual rewards’ by performing fitness tasks, users are also constantly served advertisements and actually encouraged to boost their reward balance by watching them.
The deceptive update was detected in the application Lucky Habit: health tracker, which has the same command-and-control (C&C) server as two other fitness apps: WalkingJoy and Lucky Step-Walking Tracker.
“This might indicate that they are all connected and that at any moment ‘Lucky Habit: health tracker’ and ‘WalkingJoy’ users may also lose all hope of receiving payments,” Dr Web reports.
All three applications were previously available for download on the Google Play Store, boasting average star ratings above 3.9 stars. However, at the time of writing only Lucky Habit: health tracker was available for download.
The apps had been downloaded over 20 million times cumulatively.
The apps’ users are told they need to collect two million “coins” to withdraw the cash equivalent of around $35, but once they have reached the required balance they are prompted to watch 30 more advertisements in order to make a withdrawal.
But after that no withdrawal is possible, scammed users report.
Some even reported that the videos they were served were inappropriate, and others claimed they needed to play for around six months to accrue the required withdrawal balance.
“It told me I had to watch dirty videos and I was really depending on that $35 that I was supposed to cash out because I had been playing this for a long time,” Android user Monica Marks reported.
One Android user who downloaded Lucky Habit, Clint Edwards, said that they tested the withdrawal function and were initially able to cash out $1. Then after subsequently spending hours building a credit balance, they were no longer able to withdraw.
“I have not been credited although I played for hours several games,” Edwards said.
“I’m starting to feel (it) is a scam.”
Another android user who downloaded the app, Patrick Ortiz said: “I can’t withdraw. I reached the two million and then the app said that I have to watch the ads 30 times. I played it for more than six months, that is a lot of ads! Now that I finish the game I can’t withdraw. It’s a scam! What waste of time.”