Beware of fraudulent Premium SMS apps for Android

The Premium SMS Apps

A worldwide fraud campaign has been uncovered that uses 151 malicious Android applications to trick users into subscribing to premium services without their knowledge or permission.

Premium SMS Scam Apps

Known as “UltimaSMS”, the premium SMS fraud began in May 2021 and targeted a wide range of app categories, including keyboards and QR code scanners as well as video and photo editors, spam call blockers and cameras.

Despite the fact that the Google Play Store has already taken down the majority of these applications, as of October 19, 2021, 82 of them were still accessible through the internet marketplace.

When the fraudulent applications ask users to provide their phone numbers and email addresses to access the advertised features, they’re tricking them into subscribing to premium SMS services, which may cost up to $40 per month, depending on the location and the mobile provider.

Research has uncovered that instead of displaying the stated functionalities, the applications would provide additional SMS subscription prompts or just stop operating.

Due to its widespread distribution via prominent social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, the UltimaSMS adware fraud is renowned for attracting a lot of victims with what experts describe as “catchy video commercials”.

Most of the fraudulent apps so far have been downloaded by users in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Turkey, Oman, the Qatari Arab Emirate (QAR), Kuwait, the United States and Poland with estimates in 10.5 million downloads in total.

In addition to removing the aforementioned applications, victims of the scam should turn off the premium SMS feature and contact their mobile provider to avoid subscription abuse. This step is particularly crucial on children’s phones, since they may be more vulnerable to scams of this kind. What is more, according to details that have been revealed, based on negative reviews, it seems that children are among the victims.

About the author


Lidia Howler

Lidia is a web content creator with years of experience in the cyber-security sector. She helps readers with articles on malware removal and online security. Her strive for simplicity and well-researched information provides users with easy-to-follow It-related tips and step-by-step tutorials.

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