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HomeLaw & PoliticsGoogle Sues Two Chinese Nationals Over Play Store Crypto Scam

Google Sues Two Chinese Nationals Over Play Store Crypto Scam

In a significant legal move, Google has initiated a lawsuit against two Chinese individuals, Yunfeng Sun and Hongnam Cheung, accusing them of orchestrating a deceptive cryptocurrency scheme that victimized over 100,000 users globally via fake apps on the Google Play store. This operation, allegedly run by Sun (also known as Alphonse Sun) and Cheung (also known by aliases Zhang Hongnim or Stanford Fischer) since 2019, involved the use of fraudulent cryptocurrency apps to defraud users, according to Google’s allegations. The tech giant asserts that these individuals made “false statements” concerning their identity, location, and the functionality of their apps to secure their placement on the Play Store.

This lawsuit represents Google’s proactive stance against online fraud, highlighting the company’s commitment to safeguarding its users from scams that have proliferated in the cryptocurrency sector. According to Halimah DeLaine Prado, Google’s general counsel, as reported by CNBC, the action underscores the importance of combating malicious actors who exploit the digital ecosystem to conduct extensive crypto scams, thereby safeguarding user interests and setting a deterrent against future fraudulent activities. Prado pointed out the staggering loss of over a billion dollars to cryptocurrency scams in the U.S. in 2023 alone, underscoring the critical need for such legal actions.

The legal filing elaborates on the mechanics of the scam, detailing how victims were enticed with fabricated investment returns displayed within the apps, only to discover later that they were unable to withdraw their purported earnings. The accused allegedly employed a variety of tactics to lure users, including sending misleading text messages through Google Voice, creating promotional content on social media platforms such as YouTube, and conducting affiliate marketing campaigns. These text messages were craftily designed to appear as accidental, wrong number texts, a strategy aimed at establishing a rapport with potential victims.

Despite Google’s efforts to remove these malicious apps from the Play Store, Sun and Cheung purportedly continued their fraudulent activities by creating new apps under different accounts and concealing their true identities. Through this lawsuit, Google is seeking over $75,000 in damages and is advocating for a permanent injunction that would prevent the defendants and their affiliates from accessing Google accounts or services in the future, thereby aiming to close a chapter on this elaborate scam operation and fortify its platform against similar future threats.

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