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Google Takes Legal Action Against Cryptocurrency Scammers Operating Fake Apps

Google has initiated legal proceedings against a group of individuals accused of orchestrating a widespread cryptocurrency scam that affected over 100,000 users worldwide.

The lawsuit, filed recently, targets the alleged fraudulent distribution of investment and cryptocurrency exchange applications via the Google Play Store.

Google asserts that it is the first tech company to take such action against crypto scammers, with the goal of setting legal precedents to protect its users. The lawsuit accuses the defendants of misleading Google with false information regarding their identity, location, and the nature of the applications uploaded to Google Play.

Utilizing the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law and breach of contract claims, Google seeks to hold the scammers accountable. The accused are said to have published at least 87 counterfeit apps, deceiving users about the legitimacy of their investments.

Halimah DeLaine Prado, Google’s general counsel, emphasized the significance of this legal action in combating bad actors, stating, “This is a unique opportunity for us to use our resources to actually combat bad actors.”

In 2023, crypto fraud losses in the U.S. amounted to over $1 billion. Google’s lawsuit aims not only to protect users but also to deter future fraudulent activities. The defendants, identified as Yunfeng Sun and Hongnam Cheung, allegedly targeted victims through various means, including text messages via Google Voice, promotional videos on YouTube, and affiliate marketing, since at least 2019.

The fraudulent applications, such as TionRT, masqueraded as legitimate crypto exchanges, even allowing initial minor withdrawals to gain users’ trust. However, victims ultimately found themselves unable to access their funds, often confronted with additional payment requests or minimum balance withdrawal requirements.

Despite Google’s efforts to remove the fraudulent apps upon detection, the scammers persistently created new ones to evade detection.

Google claims damages exceeding $75,000 due to the investigation and safety measures taken against these breaches. The company seeks a permanent injunction to prevent the accused and their associates from accessing Google services and creating accounts.

As Google takes a firm stance against crypto scammers, the legal proceedings underscore the importance of safeguarding users against fraudulent activities in the cryptocurrency space.

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