Google To Refund Users Who Bought ‘Virus Shield’ Fake Android Anti-Virus App

Any Android user that purchased ‘Virus Shield’, an alleged anti-virus application that offered no security protection whatsoever, from the Google Play store is to be refunded and receive a $5 voucher as an apology from Google.

Virus Shield went live on 28 March and it is believed as many as 30,000 people downloaded the application for $3.99 (£2.35) before it was removed from Google Play on 6 April.

The app stormed to the top of the Google Play download charts, but upon closer inspection, it was discovered that it did nothing except change its icon from displaying a shield with an ‘X’ to one with a tick, indicating that the Android device was protected – a false claim.

Virus Shield refund

Google has emailed anyone who bought the app to inform them of the refund:

“We’re reaching out to you because you recently purchased the “Virus Shield” app on Google Play. This app made the false claim that it provided one-click virus protection; in reality, it did not.

“Google Play’s policies strictly prohibit false claims like these, and in light of this, we’re refunding you for your ‘Virus Shield’ purchase. You should see funds returned to your account within the next 14 days.

“Additionally we’d like to offer you $5 promotional credit, which can be used to purchase digital content on Google Play such as apps, games, books, music and movies.

“We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused; rest assured that we’re always working to make Google Play better for our users.”

Just a mistake?

Deviant Solutions, the creators of the application, told The Guardian that the version of Virus Shield that was uploaded to Google Play was merely a placeholder and was never intended to be published.

It says there is a genuine version of the software in development and once it was alerted to the error, it unpublished the app, but was unable to make amendments because its Google Play developer account had been suspended.

It adds that it has not withdrawn any earnings so far and that it might make the full version of the app available for free. Google does not distribute revenue to developers until the 15th of each month, making it unlikely that the developers have profited from Virus Shield, and ensures that Google’s losses are limited to the $5 voucher it is offering.

However it might see this as a price worth paying in an attempt to restore confidence in Android users who bought Virus Shield, given previous concerns about the Google’s policing of Google Play. The company has been forced to remove a number of fake and malicious applications, but it is clear that a number are still slipping through its net.

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Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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