Are you sure you don’t have fake version of WhatsApp in your device? Well, a fake and possibly malicious version of Facebook-owned WhatsApp was found lurking on Google Play Store as Update WhatsApp Messenger with developer name as WhatsApp Inc.
All it actually did was bombard users with ads and try to get them to install another dodgy program. However it was later removed from the play store before being downloaded over a million times.
As much as Google has tried to prevent malware from being uploaded to its official Play mobile application store, the company has kept tripping up—with almost alarming regularity in recent months.
The latest incident involves a fake version of the WhatsApp instant messenger for Android that was downloaded at least one million times over the past few days before Google removed it Sunday after learning of the issue from Reddit readers. Rather than being related to the Facebook-owned app, the fake version served users with adverts to download other apps.
The fake app appeared to be created by a developer with the title WhatsApp Inc. – the same title as the real version. But the app maker had added a Unicode character space after the WhatsApp Inc. name and made it almost impossible to detect a difference for a normal user.
The fake app was first spotted by users on Friday, who started a Reddit thread to raise awareness of it. This is not the first time someone tries to deceive Android users with fake, malicious apps. The Google Play Store has long been mired by these kinds of apps. But based on the number of downloads, this fake WhatsApp app is one of the most successful ever.
However, it has now been removed from the Play Store but there are a handful of other variants that sound or look similar to the official version which could easily trick the smartphone owners. It’s a scary world out there and if you’re not inclined to double check an app before downloading, you may want to try regular texting.