Facebook has announced that it has filed a petition against two Asian app developers, LionMobi and Jedimobi, for hijacking people’s phones and acquiring money fraudulently by tricking them to click on ads.
The two app developers, LionMobi which is based in Hong Kong and Jedimobi, based in Singapore, are accused of launching malicious apps and making them available in the Google Play Store.
Once installed, the malicious apps by the two developers would use users’ phones to trick into Facebook’s advertising system into paying out cash to them by pretending to be “real” people clicking on online ads.
“The developers made apps available on the Google Play store to infect their users’ phones with malware. The malware created fake user clicks on Facebook ads that appeared on the user’s phones, giving the impression that the users had clicked on the ads,” said a Facebook blog post.
“The companies generated unearned payouts from Facebook for misrepresenting that a real person had clicked on the ads. The ads were part of Facebook’s audience network. LionMobi also advertised its malicious apps on Facebook, in violation of our advertising policies.”
LionMobi has been using a Power clean- antivirus and a phone cleaner app in its alleged fraud which is available in the Google Play store while the Singapore based developer, JediMobi has two apps in the store including a calculator plus app and a Fat Burning Workout app.
The Power clean app has more than 100 million downloads and the calculator plus app has more than 5 million downloads as revealed by Google play store. Facebook currently has about 1.59 billion daily users as revealed in June 2019 and any malware or fraud would obviously impact a good number of the users.
In its blog post, Facebook did not say the number of users that have been affected by the malware and or how much money the developers had acquired from the affected users. The Facebook accounts for the two developers have been disabled.