Beware of SpyLoan apps that make fake promises of swift financial assistance but have ulterior motives. Cybersecurity firm ESET researchers have discovered that these apps are targeting vulnerable people in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America, who are desperately in need of urgent money and cannot access established financial assistance channels.
In 2022, both Apple and Google removed several of these SpyLoan apps from their stores, but these apps are also spread through third-party stores and websites. 18 additional apps made their way to the Google Play Store, and 17 of them had already been downloaded 12 million times before being removed. One remaining app is still available, as its developers changed its functionality to not be considered harmful.
The scammers promote these apps through popular social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, and even through text messages.
The SpyLoan apps promise instant loans but expect a quick repayment along with an unusually high interest rate. They are designed to look authentic and closely affiliated with legitimate loan providers and financial institutions. In some cases, they even have official websites with a fake board of directors and stock photos lifted from other websites.
Upon downloading, these apps request excessive permissions such as access to call logs, storage, media files, contact lists, and location data. They also require users to provide personal details, such as address, contact information, bank account information, and a photo of an identification card. Once the scammers gain access to this information, they start blackmailing the victims, insisting on repayment even if the user never applied for a loan or had their loan approved.
In addition to not following the policies set by Google, such as a set cap on interest rates and repayment tenure of more than 60 days, these scammers threaten users, including with dire consequences, if they refuse to comply.
Here are the names of some of these apps to be aware of and immediately delete if you have downloaded them:
– AA Kredit
– Amor Cash
– Préstamos De Crédito-YumiCash
– Go Crédito
– Instantáneo Préstamo
– Cartera grande
– Rápido Crédito
– Finupp Lending
– 4S Cash
If you have already downloaded any of these apps, delete them immediately. If you are being harassed, contact law enforcement authorities. To stay safe, only download apps from trusted sources and check reviews and ratings before installation.