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We asked Satnam Narang, a security response manager at Symantec, for his take on the scam. He told us the ultimate goal of the creators of these apps is to turn a profit off of unsuspecting Android users.
"So, users who fall victim to the scam end up losing money. No English-language apps were identified as part of this particular group of discovery; all targeted Japanese-language speakers," Narang said. "However, there is no reason to believe that this same scam could not be perpetrated with English-language apps."
Narang went on to say that these types of malicious apps can sometimes be hard to spot. In general, he noted, it's a good idea to avoid downloading apps from sources other than trusted app marketplaces. Likewise, it's a good idea to pay close attention to the permissions apps request.
"Another trick is to look at the reviews from other users who downloaded the apps," Narang said. "However, in the case of these malicious apps, these tactics aren't as effective. So in this case using mobile security software to detect and remove malicious apps is probably the No. 1 thing users should do."