Google has initiated legal proceedings against a group of individuals accused of orchestrating a scheme to defraud over 100,000 people worldwide through counterfeit cryptocurrency apps distributed on its Google Play store. The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York on April 4, reflects Google’s commitment to combatting crypto scams and establishing legal safeguards for user protection.

The defendants, identified as Yunfeng Sun and Hongnam Cheung, allegedly operated a fraudulent operation by uploading at least 87 fake investment and crypto exchange apps on Google Play. These individuals purportedly provided false information about their identities, locations, and the nature of their apps.

Halimah DeLaine Prado, Google’s general counsel, underscored the significance of the lawsuit in addressing crypto fraud, which has inflicted significant losses in the US. Google aims to leverage its resources to safeguard users and deter fraudulent activities.

The legal action utilizes civil claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, alongside breach of contract claims. The lawsuit outlines the defendants’ methods to attract users, including text messaging campaigns, online videos, and affiliate marketing.

Despite the counterfeit apps’ appearance of legitimacy, users allegedly encountered difficulties withdrawing their funds, with some being misled into paying additional fees to access earnings. The accused scammers attempted to legitimize their apps by facilitating small initial withdrawals and publishing news releases, but users encountered obstacles when attempting to retrieve larger investments.

Google has responded to these deceptive practices by bolstering its cybersecurity measures, forming partnerships with law enforcement, and establishing a dedicated team to identify fraud. The company claims damages exceeding $75,000 due to investigative and safety enhancement costs.

Through the lawsuit, Google seeks damages and a permanent injunction barring the defendants and their affiliates from accessing Google services or creating accounts. This legal action forms part of Google’s broader strategy to protect users and uphold platform integrity amidst rising online scams and cybersecurity threats.

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