Fake Android app was an honest mistake, claims developer

Red "Sorry!" stamp

An antivirus app that received tens of thousands of downloads from Google Play before being exposed as doing nothing more than changing an icon was uploaded to the store in error, it has been claimed.

Virus Shield, as the product was called, cost $3.99 (2.40) per download and claimed to "[prevent] harmful apps from being installed on your device ... [scan] apps, settings, files and media in real time ... [and serve] ZERO pesky advertisements!".

However, analysis of the app's code by Android Police found it did not offer any protection from malware in fact the one click' activation did no more than change an icon from a cross to a tick.

The app was downloaded some 30,000 times after shooting to the top of Google Play with a five-star rating, despite the fact it did nothing, leading to speculation the whole thing was a scam.

However, Jesse Carter, whose development company Deviant Solutions uploaded the app, has hit out at these allegations, saying "we never intended to scam our customers on Google Play".

Speaking to the Guardian, Carter said it was his organisation that had removed the app from the store, not Google. He added that all customers would be refunded.

"One of our developers made a foolish mistake," Carter said, explaining the situation.

"The app version that was decompiled by Android Police was not intended to be released. It was an early placeholder that our UI designer created. There was a mix-up between the version that contained the antivirus code for our app," he added.

Carter claimed that Deviant Solutions unpublished the app as soon as they read the Android Police article, but that the organisation's developer account had been suspended before amends to the app could be made.

Jane McCallion
Managing Editor

Jane McCallion is ITPro's Managing Editor, specializing in data centers and enterprise IT infrastructure. Before becoming Managing Editor, she held the role of Deputy Editor and, prior to that, Features Editor, managing a pool of freelance and internal writers, while continuing to specialize in enterprise IT infrastructure, and business strategy.

Prior to joining ITPro, Jane was a freelance business journalist writing as both Jane McCallion and Jane Bordenave for titles such as European CEO, World Finance, and Business Excellence Magazine.