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Google Files Lawsuit Against Crypto Scammers for Launching Fraudulent Apps on Google Play

Ruholamin Haqshanas
Last updated: | 2 min read
Google Files Lawsuit

Google has filed a lawsuit against a group accused of defrauding more than 100,000 individuals worldwide by uploading fraudulent investment and crypto exchange apps to Google Play.

The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York, claims that the defendants engaged in multiple misrepresentations to deceive Google and upload their fraudulent apps to Google Play, according to a report from CNBC

These misrepresentations include falsifying information about their identity, location, and the nature of the applications being uploaded.

Google’s lawsuit includes civil claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law, as well as breach of contract claims. 

Scammers Published At Least 87 Fraudulent Apps

The company asserts that the scammers created and published at least 87 fraudulent apps to deceive users.

“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,” Halimah DeLaine Prado, general counsel at Google, said. 

“In 2023 alone we saw over a billion dollars within the U.S. of cryptocurrency fraud and scams and this [lawsuit] allows us to not only use our resources to protect users, but to also serve as sort of a precedent to future bad actors that we don’t tolerate this behavior.”

The alleged scammers, identified as Yunfeng Sun (also known as Alphonse Sun) and Hongnam Cheung (also known as Zhang Hongnim or Stanford Fischer), are said to have conducted their scheme since at least 2019. 

They employed various methods to entice victims into downloading their apps, including text message campaigns, online promotional videos, and affiliate marketing campaigns.

According to the lawsuit, the scammers designed the apps to appear legitimate, displaying users’ balances and earnings on their investments. 

However, users soon discovered that they could not withdraw their investments or supposed gains. 

To gain users’ trust, the scammers allowed small initial withdrawals but then requested fees or minimum balances for larger withdrawals, leading to victims losing more money.

Fake Exchange App TionRT Launched on Google Play

One of the apps highlighted in the lawsuit is TionRT, which claimed to be a crypto exchange. 

The app, uploaded to Google Play in 2022 by a developer account associated with Sun, used text messages and social media platforms to entice victims with promises of earning extra money. 

Victims who were unable to withdraw their funds received no response from the scammers, leading to the eventual shutdown of the platform.

Google became aware of the fraudulent apps through reports from victims who were unable to withdraw their funds. 

The company maintains a dedicated cybersecurity team that actively monitors its platforms and services for potential abuses. 

In some cases, Google collaborates with law enforcement agencies to address such issues.

Google seeks a permanent injunction against the defendants and claims damages exceeding $75,000, which include expenses related to investigating the breach and ensuring platform safety and integrity.

Meanwhile, Google last week launched a feature allowing users to search balances of wallets on Bitcoin, Arbitrum, Avalanche, Optimism, Polygon, and Fantom blockchain.