“Fleeceware” apps overcharge users even after the uninstall

Researchers from SophosLabs discovered that Fleeceware app overcharges users for providing its services when the short trial period got expired even if the app is uninstalled.

The Fleeceware phenomenon was discovered on September last. Google took down this app due to such unfair practices. But, security experts found more culprits and the number of installers of the app exceeds 600 million.

Users lose their hundred of dollars

The trial period of Fleeceware app operated on opt-out basis, which means users who signed up to the apps had to cancel the trial before they get charged. The users who acquired the trial-based application and soon uninstalled the apps from their device do not get charged as developers assume that the product does not satisfy the customer.  However, some developers did not play all that fair and they charged users even if they uninstall the apps from their phones or tablets.

“As we saw last fall, there were a wide variety of entertainment or utility apps, including fortune tellers, instant messengers, video editors, and beauty apps. And just like last time, user reviews reveal serious complaints about overcharging, and that many of these apps are substandard, and don’t work as expected.”

The fleeceware provides basis functionality such as flashlight or fortune-telling for an extortionate price comparatively to the apps of others similar one of which charging users as high as $521 which is broken down in a monthly payment of $27 or weekly around $10. The thing that reminds more of fraud than anything else is that the person who is getting charged monthly does not use the app.

Fake install count statics follows up by Fleeceware developers

It is easy now a day to increase rankings artificially, which has been practiced for a while on YouTube and other platforms. The favors are provided by a specific paid service with the addition of fake reviews (phrases like Great App, Good, Love it etc) and ratings with 5 stars.

Apps of shady trials

Opt out model provides users to try out any apps for free. However, since users do not read the terms and conditions, the chances of them getting tricked by such policy is high.  Users sometimes got confused whether the payment is one-time deal or the recurring process.

While it is highly likely that the Google will remove the reminder of the app fleeceware and other similar apps such as Astrofun, Easynap, VCUT, Face X Play, Fortunemirror, Filmigo, GO Keyboard, GO Keyboard Lite, GO SMS Pro, GO Recorder, GO Security, Z Camera, Master Recorder, S Photo Editor, Wonder Video, Clipvue, Filmix, Photo Recovery & Video Recovery, ScreenRecorder, V Recorder, V Recorder Lite that the SophosLabs discovered.

For the next time, if you sign up for a trial, you should cancel the subscription before the time. Remember, uninstalling apps may/ may not cancel the subscription automatically. Hope that, Google will soon work on declining such apps that use business model to deceive users.