Public urged to exercise caution when downloading beta apps amid increasing cryptocurrency scams
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a stark warning to consumers against downloading apps labeled as being in beta test mode. These apps have been associated with scams aimed at stealing cryptocurrency and other assets, as detailed in a recent Public Service Announcement (PSA) by the agency.
The malicious apps, often utilized in crypto investment scams, are typically promoted through various other fraudulent schemes. They deceive victims by mimicking popular apps in name, images, or descriptions. Cybercriminals employ phishing or romance scams to establish contact with victims and then direct them to download a mobile beta-testing app. Promising incentives such as large financial rewards, these scams exploit unsuspecting individuals.
The FBI emphasized the serious consequences of downloading these fraudulent apps, which include theft of personally identifiable information (PII), unauthorized access to financial accounts, and complete takeover of the victim’s device.
According to the report, beta apps can easily evade detection due to limited mobile operating system security checks. This makes it easier for their malicious code to go undetected.
The FBI shared several indicators that might help identify a potentially malicious application. These include unusually fast battery drainage, slow processing speed, persistent pop-ups, and permission requests that do not align with the app’s described functionality. Additionally, users should be cautious of apps with spelling or grammatical errors, vague descriptions in app stores, and a high number of downloads with few reviews.
If an unsuspecting victim downloads one of these fraudulent beta-testing apps under the pretense of a legitimate cryptocurrency investment app, they risk falling victim to fake investments designed to extract money from them.
To protect themselves, mobile users are urged to keep their devices updated, restrict app permissions, and uninstall any unused apps. Additionally, caution should be exercised when encountering phishing emails, even if they appear to come from trusted sources.
The FBI’s final piece of advice is to refrain from sending payments to individuals solely based on online interactions, even if a relationship appears to have been established.