Published in El Pais, October 1st 2019.
I have seen my fair share of fraud techniques over the past couple of years, sometimes I’m impressed with the creativity and other times I wonder how people can fall for such a ruse (no one is going to hand you a million dollars for doing very little work). It is this new type of fraud that is appearing on the Google Play application store that has me both impressed and wonder why people fall for it.
In what is being dubbed “Fleeceware”, users are invited to download a standard application for a free trial, they ask for payment information before you can use it which users willingly give as they feel they will not be charged if they delete the app and if they forget they figure they will only be out a few dollars. However what they soon find out is that to not be charged they need to opt out of the free trial and not just delete the application, and the fee is over $100.
You may think few have fallen for such a ploy but the apps have been downloaded thousands of times meaning the scam was likely quite successful and what’s worse is that at least on paper these developers do not seem to have broken any laws as users have willing given their payment information without reading any fine print. This means that there are little to no means to getting your money back and Google has a difficult time deleting the apps from their store.
If your are wondering how to prevent yourself from being a victim I would just take standard precautions and be wary about giving out your payment information. If you find an application with a free trial that you really want then read the fine print to see how much it actually costs, if it is just a few dollars than you might find it worth it.
Every day scammers are finding more ways to take your hard earned money away. We need to remain vigilant to make sure that does not happen.