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Google Sues Crypto Scammers for Defrauding Thousands of People with Fake Apps on PlayStore

Google
Google

Google is filing a lawsuit against two app developers accused of using the Google Play Store to distribute deceptive investment and trading apps.

These apps, fished out by Google, although disguised as legitimate platforms, were allegedly part of an elaborate scheme that defrauded over 100,000 users globally.

The lawsuit targets Yunfeng Sun (also known as Alphonse Sun) and Hongnam Cheung (also known as Zhang Hongnim or Stanford Fischer), who Google believes are behind the scheme.

The complaint alleges that since at least 2019, the pair uploaded a network of 87 fraudulent apps to the Play Store. These apps lured victims in with promises of high returns on cryptocurrency investments, but ultimately functioned as a way to steal users’ money.

According to Google, the scammers used a multi-pronged approach to attract victims. They launched text message campaigns, primarily targeting users in the US and Canada, using Google Voice to mask their identities.

Additionally, they employed promotional videos on YouTube and other platforms to create an air of legitimacy. Finally, they utilized affiliate marketing schemes, offering commissions to users who recruited others to the fraudulent apps.

The lawsuit details how the apps were designed to appear trustworthy. Users were shown fabricated account balances and purported investment returns, fostering a sense of security.

However, when users attempted to withdraw their funds, they were met with roadblocks. Some were initially allowed to withdraw small amounts to further incentivize investment, while others were hit with fees or minimum balance requirements – tactics Google claims were used to “bilk some victims out of even more money.”

Google is focused on user safety and highlights this lawsuit as a landmark effort. “This is a unique opportunity for us to use our resources to actually combat bad actors who were running an extensive crypto scheme to defraud some of our users,” said Halimah DeLaine Prado, Google’s general counsel. She further emphasized the lawsuit’s role in setting a precedent: “We don’t tolerate this behavior.”

The lawsuit seeks to recover damages exceeding $75,000 incurred by Google in investigating the scheme, and also permanently bar the defendants from accessing Google services and creating new accounts.

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