A company has been fined 50,000 pounds (about $78,300) for profiting from fraudulent version of "Angry Birds," "Assassin's Creed," "Cut the Rope" and other rigged smartphone apps downloaded by thousands of people.
Unbeknownst to those who downloaded them, the spoofed apps secretly took over victims' phones in the United Kingdom and other countries. Lurking in the background, the apps triggered each victim's phone to send three texts, at a rate of 5 pounds (about $7) each, according to U.K. telephone industry regulator PhonepayPlus, which cut off the scam, dubbed "RuFraud."
The fine was levied against A1 Agregator Limited, a firm which "had control of, and responsibility for, the premium rate payment system which enabled the malware to fraudulently charge consumer's mobile phone accounts," PhonepayPlus said.
In total, RuFraud affected 1,391 UK smartphone users to the tune of 27,850 pounds (about $43,500), before PhonepayPlus put an end to it. It's estimated that approximately 14,000 downloads of the bogus apps were made worldwide. Because of the industry regulator's actions, none of the money from the text message scam made it to the fraudsters.
PhonepayPlus' director of strategy and communications, Patrick Guthrie, wrote in the company's press release that he is pleased with the 50,000 pound fine, as it sends a message that his company will "continue to clamp down on those who wish to take advantage of U.K. smartphone customers." Guthrie said all the mobile phone users affected by the RuFraud scam would get their money back.