Meta Platforms has sued a group of Chinese companies behind fake WhatsApp apps HeyMods, Highlight Mobi and HeyWhatsApp for stealing over a million WhatsApp accounts since May 2022.
Meta owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
beeping computer reports that the companies allegedly created “unofficial” Android WhatsApp apps that steal account credentials.
The apps were available for download from HeyMods, Highlight Mobi, and HeyWhatsApp websites, as well as Google Play Store, APK Pure, APKSFree, iDescargar, and Malavida.
The rogue apps contained malware that scraped WhatsApp login credentials and used the hacked accounts to send spam.
“After installing the malicious apps, the victims were prompted to enter their WhatsApp user credentials and authenticate their WhatsApp access to the malicious apps,” Meta’s complaint reads.
“Defendants programmed the Malicious Applications to communicate user credentials to WhatsApp’s computers and obtain user account keys and authentication credentials (collectively, “Access Credentials”).”
In July, WhatsApp boss Will Cathcart warned users that using fake or modified versions of WhatsApp on Android could lead to the theft of their personal information.
Cathcart explained that WhatsApp’s security research team found malware hidden in apps offering services similar to WhatsApp, available outside the Google Play Store by a developer called HeyMods.
“These apps promised new features but were just a scam to steal personal information stored on people’s phones,” Cathcart warned.
“We shared what we found with Google and worked with them to combat malicious apps.”