Google Sues Two Chinese Developers Over Crypto Investment App Scams

A recent lawsuit was filed by Google against two app developers, Yunfeng Sun (also known as Alphonse Sun) and Hongnam Cheung (also known as Zhang Hongnim and Stanford Fischer), for their alleged involvement in an international online investment fraud scheme.

As a consequence of the Defendants’ breach, Google has incurred economic losses exceeding $75,000. 

These losses stem from the costs associated with investigating the breach and allocating resources to mitigate the damage inflicted upon the safety and integrity of Google’s platforms.

According to Google’s records, approximately 100,000 users globally have downloaded the fraudulent apps. Among these, approximately 8,700 users are from the United States.

Starting around 2019, the Defendants engaged in multiple instances of wire fraud as part of a single criminal scheme involving at least 87 fraudulent apps. 

Their tactics included misleading representations to both Google and individual victims. 

Their ultimate aim was to deceptively manipulate and defraud victims into “investing” in apps that were alleged to be cryptocurrency exchanges and investment platforms.

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Sun and Cheung are accused of creating fraudulent apps that appeared to be legitimate cryptocurrency exchanges and investment platforms. 

These apps were uploaded to Google Play and advertised through various methods, including social media and online videos.

The defendants allegedly used social engineering tactics to target victims. 

This involved sending text messages or initiating conversations on social media platforms to build trust and convince them to download the apps. 

Some tactics included pretending to be the wrong number or offering “romantic relationships.”

The apps displayed fake account balances and alleged returns on investments to make them appear legitimate. 

However, withdrawals were impossible, and victims lost their money.

Google claims it has taken steps to combat the scheme by reviewing apps before publishing them on Google Play, removing fraudulent apps, and suspending associated developer accounts.

Google is suing Sun and Cheung under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) for their alleged role in a pattern of wire fraud. 

Additionally, Google claims the developers breached their contract by violating Google Play’s Developer Program Policies.

Fraudulent Apps:

  • TionRT app supposedly allowed cryptocurrency exchange but used social engineering and fake news articles to appear legitimate.
  • Starlight app promised easy money through watching videos but required initial investments that could not be withdrawn.
  • SkypeWallet app, promoted through fake online videos promising high returns, turned out to be a fake cryptocurrency exchange.

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Sujatha is a Cyber security content editor with a passion for creating captivating and informative content. With years of experience under her belt in Cyber Security, she is covering Cyber Security News, technology and other news.