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How a 17-Year-Old Android Developer Scammed Thousands

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Last month, a 17-year-old Android developer from Texas published an app called "Virus Shield," which described itself as a "an Antivirus that protects you and your personal information from harmful viruses, malware, and spyware." The app sold for $3.99, and according to Jason Mick at DailyTech, was downloaded by thousands before reaching number one among paid apps on Google's Play Store.

Unfortunately, the app didn't do anything.

According to Mick, the app made good on some of its claims - no ads, and minimal impact on battery life, for example - but the reason was that the other features it boasted just weren't there:

The issue was that it used next to no battery life because it was quite-literally doing nothing.  The app appeared to have no real security features whatsoever, just feel-good 100-percent digital snakeoil.

Basically, this is the extent of the app:

And if you tap the X:

And despite the complete lack of functionality, the app is rated pretty well:

So, aside from some likely fake reviews, it appears that the app rose quickly to the number one spot for paid apps on the Play Store simply by looking slick and claiming to do something. Nothing more than that. The lack of Apple-style iron-fisted policing in the Play Store is definitely positive in a lot of ways, but the over 10,000 users who downloaded "Virus Shield" for $3.99 might have some mixed feelings now.

Then again, Yolo Bilbo Swaggins probably should have been a clue.

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