A press release from the Federal Trade Commission states that the developers of the Prized mobile app have decided to settle the charges that their ‘rewards’ app installed malware on the users’ smartphones that drained the batteries and depleted the data plans. The New Jersey Attorney General also said that the app’s main purpose was to actually load the consumers’ mobile phones with a malicious software to mine cryptocurrency for the developer.
The press release said that Equiliv Investments and Ryan Ramminger, the Ohio-based defendants have settled for $50,000, of which $44,800 will be suspended upon payment of $5,200 to New Jersey regulators.
Director of the US Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Jessica Rich said,
“Hijacking consumers’ mobile devices with malware to mine cryptocurrency isn’t just deplorable; it’s also illegal. These scammers are now prohibited from trying such a scheme again.”
A Brief History of the Prized App
The Prized mobile app was launched on Google’s Play Store and Amazon’s App Store around February last year. The app lured the consumers to win rewards which could later be redeemed for clothes, gift cards and others things.
The app quickly became a rage and registered thousands of downloads. However, users were in for a shock when they realized that the app had hijacked their smartphones and was using their batteries and data plans to mine cryptocurrency like Dogecoin, Litecoin, and QuarkCoin.
According to the complaint filed against the developers, consumers were promised that the downloaded app would be free from malicious software – malware – or viruses but, it instead turned out to be a Trojan horse.
The agreed settlement also requires the defendants to destroy any data collected through marketing and distributing the application. They are also banned from distributing misleading software or software that rewards people with points or prizes.