European Premium SMS Toll Fraud Rising, Thanks in Part to RuFraud

In recent months premium SMS toll fraud apps have been on the rise and have been primarily targeting users in Europe. Known as downloaders for for well-known third party software (i.e. an app like Opera Mobile) and can be primarily found on various file sharing sites and alternative markets.

This week, a new threat known as RuFraud, has come to light. It’s posted to the official Android Market and the first batch appeared as a string of horoscope apps with a hidden Terms of Service indicating charges. When you first use these apps you are presented with one option to continue, and this is presumed to be an agreement to premium charges buried in layers of obscure links. These short codes can affect users in the following countries:

– Russia,
– Azerbaijan,
– Armenia,
– Georgia,
– Czech Republic,
– Poland,
– Kazakhstan,
– Belarus,
– Latvia,
– Kyrgyzstan,
– Tajikistan,
– Ukraine,
– Estonia.

Other countries affected include Great Britain, Italy, Israel, France and Germany. Those in North America weren’t affected though because the fraudulent SMS code is based on the user’s country indicated by the phone’s SIM. Lookout notified Google last week of 9 identical applications that were skinned to appear more appealing to potential users. They included:

– Three wallpaper apps for popular movies (Twilight included)
– Three apps purported as downloaders for popular games like Angry Birds and Cut the Ropes.

Google responded quickly by pulling these apps. When they were removed only a few users had downloaded these apps and the severity of this threat was still quite low.  However, these fraudulent folk posted 13 new supposed downloaders to the Market, again as free versions of popular games. These apps may have reached a broader audience as there have been 14,000 estimated downloads of these apps. Google again responded quickly and pulled these apps and Lookout sent out an OTA update protecting users from all know variations of RuFraud.

So if you are using this app and haven’t received the update check out your Android Market for an update. If you don’t have this app installed hit the link or QR code below to get a copy.


Lookout QR code

QR Code


Android Market Link


[via Lookout Mobile]


About the Author: Jack Holt

Jack is a tech enthusiast who is surviving small-town Wyoming. He's a newspaper editor by trade and a blogger for fun. His phone of choice is the Galaxy Note 4 and when he's not tinkering on that, he can be found researching new tech and wondering if his wallet can sustain a new tech purchase. When he's not in front of a computer, he's out in the mountains with his dog exploring the wilderness.