Symantec uncovers SMS product scam

Fake app, Privato Spy, claims to view the phone screen live and call logs

Smartphone users who are enticed to purchase an SMS product application called SMS Privato Spy are being advised by Symantec to steer clear as the app is fake and is simply another way for cyber criminals to make money.

SMS Privato Spy has been marketed online as an app that allows buyers to spy on smartphone users. It claims that buyers can access call logs, perform GPS tracking and activate the phone’s microphone to listen in on conversations.

However, the app is fake and duped consumers are paying anywhere between $US50 and $US125 for the package.

Symantec US security expert, Peter Coogan, wrote in a blog post that people were also taken in because the fake app website contained a video with a company called Elluma Discovery reviewing what was supposedly SMS Privato Spy, but was in fact a review of a different piece of legitimate software.

Unfortunately, more than a few scammers such as Privato embedded the video on their advertising page to make it look like Elluma Discovery was endorsing them.

“If a victim follows the instructions on the site they will obtain a voucher pin code from an online payment site for the payment amount,” Coogan said.

“Once they use this payment pin code to register and purchase the product on the site, they are presented with the message telling them that their order is being processed.”

However, no more contact is made with the victim and the scammers take the unprocessed payment voucher pin code to use it for their own purposes.

“We are aware of one case where the scammers seemed to have used the payment voucher to purchase items through an online gaming Web shop," he said.

"The online game is hugely popular and the fraudsters may have being purchasing points that are used as in game currency."

Coogan advised people to be wary of apps that sounded too good to be true and be vigilant when purchasing goods online.

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Tags symantecSMS Privato SpyPeter Coogan

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