Android apps which surreptitiously use the devices they're installed on to mine for cryptocurrency are all the rage these days, but there are others which will just fake mining for crypto coins using ads to make money for the bad actors behind them.
As discovered by Fortinet's Axelle Apvrille, a number of Android apps available in Google's Play store since May 11, 2018, published by a developer who goes by the name of lovecoin claimed to be cryptocurrency miners.
What made some of them stand out from the start was the fact that they were pretending to be crypto mining for coins such as Ripple (XRP), Cardano (ADA), or Tether (USDT), some of the crypto coins which cannot be mined by design.
For example, to be able to get XRP coins you would first have to mine for other cryptocurrencies and then convert them to Ripple coins since all such coins have been created at Ripple's inception.
Aprville discovered that the fake mining apps which are now removed from the Play Store would display a screen where users were asked to begin the XRP mining process by hitting a Start button and then the app would present randomly generated fake mining speed info.
The fake mining Android apps would earn money for their author by displaying ads
Through the fake miners' menu users were able to "withdraw" the mined coins but this operation will always pop-up an errors saying that the wallet address is incorrect with the "Error! check your wallet address" error message.
Wondering how the scammers were making money using this scheme? They would display ads on the Android devices which were mining for fake crypto coins and collecting the revenue.
This type of fake mining Android apps has been spotted in the Play Store before by Lukas Stefanko (.PDF), an ESET mobile security researcher, who found out a number of such apps in February.
Although the new fake miners were published under another vendor name, it entirely possible that the same actor was once again trying his Ripple-mining Google-ads displaying Android apps for easy gains.