Google Sues Over Crypto Scams, 100K Apps Downloaded

Google sues crypto scammers for distributing 87 fraudulent apps, marking a first in tech company legal actions against fraud.

By Jack Wilson

4/4, 07:33 EDT
Bitcoin / U.S. dollar

Key Takeaway

  • Google sues two individuals in China for using its platforms to distribute fraudulent crypto apps, alleging racketeering.
  • Victims downloaded about 100,000 scam apps from Google Play, leading to significant financial losses.
  • Losses from U.S. crypto investment scams rose by 53% to $3.94 billion in 2023, highlighting the growing issue of online fraud.

Google Takes Stand Against Crypto Scams

In a groundbreaking move, Google has filed a lawsuit against a group of cryptocurrency scammers, marking a significant step in the tech giant's efforts to safeguard its users from fraudulent activities. This legal action, the first of its kind by a tech company against crypto fraudsters, aims to establish a strong legal precedent that will enhance protections for users worldwide.

Pioneering Legal Action

Google's lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York, targets individuals accused of creating and distributing over 87 fraudulent apps through Google Play, deceiving more than 100,000 people globally. The defendants, identified as Yunfeng Sun and Hongnam Cheung, allegedly engaged in a sophisticated scheme since at least 2019, utilizing various methods to lure victims into downloading their deceptive apps.

A Commitment to User Safety

Halimah DeLaine Prado, Google's general counsel, emphasized the company's dedication to combating such malicious actors. "This is a unique opportunity for us to use our resources to actually combat bad actors who were running an extensive crypto scheme to defraud some of our users," Prado stated in an exclusive interview with CNBC Crypto World. She further highlighted the importance of this lawsuit in setting a precedent for future actions against similar threats, showcasing Google's proactive stance in protecting its users.

Innovative Defense Strategies

The lawsuit details the scammers' tactics, including the use of text message campaigns, online promotional videos, and affiliate marketing to attract victims. By initially allowing users to withdraw small amounts, the scammers built a facade of legitimacy around their apps. Google's legal action seeks not only to address the immediate issue but also to prevent the defendants and their associates from accessing Google services in the future, thereby cutting off a key avenue for their fraudulent activities.

Google's Vigilant Cybersecurity Efforts

Google's response to these scams underscores the company's comprehensive approach to cybersecurity. With a dedicated team working tirelessly to detect and mitigate fraud, spam, and abuse across its platforms, Google remains at the forefront of digital safety. The company's decision to engage in affirmative litigation further demonstrates its commitment to creating a safer online environment for all users.

Management Quotes

  • Halimah DeLaine Prado, General Counsel of Google:

    "Keeping people safe online is core to our business and we will not tolerate the misuse of our platforms to facilitate cryptocurrency scams. This litigation is a critical step in holding these bad actors accountable and sending a clear message that we will aggressively pursue those who seek to take advantage of our users."