Fleeceware Apps Still Rife In Play Store

In September 2019, SophosLabs revealed that some app publishers were using a devious business model to overcharge Android users for basic services.

Four months on, these fleeceware apps are still rife in the Google Play Store preying on Android users who purchase ‘subscriptions’ to apps.

Fleeceware apps, see users charged an excessive amount of money, if they don’t cancel their ‘subscription’ to an app before the short free trial window closes.

Researchers at SophosLabs, said:

“While the company did take down all the apps we had previously reported to them, fleeceware remains a big problem on Google Play.

“Since our September post, we’ve seen many more fleeceware apps appear on the official Android app store.”

The apps that have been flagged up by researchers include:

  • Entertainment apps
  • Utility apps
  • Fortune-telling apps
  • Instant messengers
  • Video editors
  • Beauty apps

Researchers at SophosLabs, discovered some apps were charging as much as £200 for a yearly subscription for a service which Google itself supplies for free – reverse-image search.

They also found that 25 of these apps have been installed over nearly 600million times.

Users of the apps have tried to deter others from falling foul of this fleeceware business model.

Researchers added:

“User reviews reveal serious complaints about overcharging, and that many of the apps are standard, and don’t work as expected.”

Those users who have unsubscribed prior to the end of the free trial, have still been charged a yearly subscription fee