Apple, Google told to explain themselves after crypto scams hit app stores

(Image credit: Future)

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has sent a letter to the CEOs of Apple and demanding the companies explain how they review and approve mobile apps for cryptocurrency trading and storing. 

The letter comes a few days after the FBI warned retail investors that their peers lost more than $42 million on crypto scams in less than a year.

“Crypto mobile apps are available to the public through app stores, including Apple’s App Store,” the senator wrote to Cook on Thursday, according to The Verge. “While cryptocurrency apps have offered investors easy and convenient ways to trade cryptocurrency, reports have emerged of fake crypto apps that have scammed hundreds of investors.”

Preventing fraud

Brown also wants to know if the companies monitor the apps they list in the stores, and how they stop them from “transforming” into phishing scams, as well as if the two companies notified their users about fraudulent crypto apps in the past.

“While firms that offer crypto investment and other related services should take the necessary steps to prevent fraudulent activity, including warning investors about the uptick in scams, it is likewise imperative that app stores have the proper safeguards in place to prevent against fraudulent mobile application activity,” the letter adds.

So far, Apple and Google have stayed silent, although they do have until August 10 to reply.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently warned American citizens to be extra careful when downloading cryptocurrency and investment apps, as some of them are malicious mobile apps and designed only to steal victim's money.

"The FBI has observed cybercriminals contacting US investors, fraudulently claiming to offer legitimate cryptocurrency investment services, and convincing investors to download fraudulent mobile apps, which the cybercriminals have used with increasing success over time to defraud the investors of their cryptocurrency," the Bureau said. The organization claims criminals have so far defrauded 244 victims out of $42.7 million.

Even though the cryptocurrency world is in a deep bear market (Bitcoin has lost roughly two-thirds of its value since November 2021), cybercriminals are as active as ever. Some of them are using advanced techniques, such as deepfake videos, to trick people into thinking high-profile individuals endorse their projects. Others are stealing identities, creating fake social media accounts of attractive women, asking for “help” or inviting people into co-investing in projects that promise high returns on their investments.

Cryptominers, malware that mines cryptocurrencies, are as popular among cybercriminals as ever before, and tokens are still the number one payment method in ransomware attacks. The FBI urges everyone to be extra careful when downloading apps, to make sure they’re only downloading from legitimate sources (for example, Google’s and Apple’s mobile app repositories), and to have two-factor authentication enabled on all accounts.

Via: The Verge

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.