The Federal Bureau of Investigation raised an alarm about cyber criminals exploiting mobile beta-testing apps to defraud unsuspecting individuals, according to a Fox Business report.
In a public service announcement released Monday, the FBI explained malicious actors are embedding harmful code in beta apps to access personal information and financial accounts.
Some of the apps may even take contorl of, or “own,” the victim’s device.
Beta-testing apps are designed to test mobile applications before their official release, so they often bypass review processes of mobile operating systems. This makes them a prime target for cyber criminals.
These malicious apps can be deceiving as they often mimic the names, images or descriptions of popular legitimate apps.
Phishing or romance scams are often used by criminals to initiate contact with potential victims, according to the FBI alert.
Once they establish communication, they persuade the victim to download a beta-testing app, often luring them with promises of financial rewards.
“The FBI is aware of fraud schemes wherein unidentified cyber criminals contact victims on dating and networking apps and direct them to download mobile beta-testing apps, such as cryptocurrency exchanges, that enable theft,“ the FBI stated.
“The victims enter legitimate account details into the app, sending money they believe will be invested in cryptocurrency, but instead the victim funds are sent to the cyber criminals.”
Individuals who download one of these malicious beta-testing apps, especially those posing as legitimate cryptocurrency investment platforms, may end up losing money through fake investment schemes.
The FBI has provided a list of warning signs to help individuals identify potentially harmful beta-testing apps.
Some of these red flags include rapid battery drainage, device slowdowns, unauthorized app installations and persistent pop-up ads and apps that request unrelated permissions.
To safeguard against these threats, the FBI advises individuals to thoroughly vet app developers and read customer reviews before downloading any app.
The FBI statement advises against sending payments to people they’ve only interacted with online.
Law enforcement added people should not share personal or financial details via email or messages, and be cautious of unsolicited attachments or links in emails and texts.
Conducting regular software updates and restricting app permissions are also recommended by the FBI.