Apex Legends mobile app scam: fake download sites distribute malware

by Lucia Danes - -

Apex Legends fans download malware instead of a promised iOS or Android version of the game

Fake Apex Legends mobile app linked to malicious sites

Fake Apex Legends mobile applications download sites distributes malicious programs to fans of the popular game.[1]. The malicious APK download link was published on YouTube on February 16 and racked up over 600,000 views, as well as over 100,000 link clicks in just five days, as reported by ESET's security researcher Lukas Stefanko.[2]

Apex Legends is a Battle Royale video game developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by EA, playable on multiple platforms, such as Windows, PlayStation, and Xbox One. However, the mobile version of the game has not yet been released. Sounds familiar? Yes, the same scenario happened to Fortnite – another insanely popular BR game.

Apex Legends broke the records when 25 million logged into the game within the first week of its release[3]. It is not surprising that, due to game's immense popularity, combined with the fact that the iOS and Android version does not exist yet, malware authors will attempt to establish an illegal business while trying to trick people by using phishing links.

Stefanko said that, along with the popular fake YouTube video, there were hundreds of others present, reaching the same goal. Fortunately, the mentioned video, along with the fake APK download link, is now removed.

These links used in Apex Legends scam redirect viewers to almobile.pw or getapex.mobi websites. Once there, players are offered to choose the operating system for the alleged game and then presented with what seems to be a “Human verification.” In this instance, there is no malware involved, but users get tricked into completing the verification for the initial installation, creating pageviews to collect commissions for the adware developers. 

In most cases, the fake Apex Legends app leads to downloading adware or visiting malicious sites, but researchers note that installation of much more severe threats is likely as well.

Apex Legends mobile version scams on YouTube are not the only threats that focus on the game

Cybercriminals behind this Apex Legends mobile application scam deliver APK download links on YouTube videos with tutorials. This malicious application, later on, delivers adware or even more severe malware. 

Cybersecurity company Lookout discovered dozens of malicious domains used to run these phishing campaigns that push various scams like Apex Coin scam and other game cheats. Crooks even deployed links online, claiming that it is a free version of the game (it is free-to-play in the first place). Phishing AI Twitter account reported about malicious websites that push fake Flash updaters too.[4] Fake Flash updates are notorious for distributing such cyber threats like ransomware, banking trojans and another type of dangerous malware.

Phishing AI also uncovered 39 domains that were used by scammers to target Apex Legends players who look for in-game coin mining bots or similar services.

As long as there is demand for gaming, the industry will be targeted by malware

Video game industry has grown rapidly within the last 20 years and continues growing, with the worth that surpasses film and music industry combined. [5] Some games are doomed to die, while others flourish and enjoy the playerbase of millions of users. Unsurprisingly, cybercriminals will be everywhere where demand is high, no matter what it is.

Fortnite is one of the games that reached record popularity during 2018 and was also targeted with numerous scams promising fake Android versions of the game or V-bucks coin miners.[6]

The police arrested Chinese crooks in 2018 for selling cheating applications for the PUBG (another famous battle royale) which consequently installed backdoor trojan Hugeizi[7]

Back in 2016 Pokemon Go was released and popularized all over the world. The popularity of this reality-driven mobile game also was used to distribute fake applications that claim to give the advantage within the gameplay. Gamers should be cautious of the immense popularity of the game they play and only trust official announcements. Additionally, cheats that promise in-game currency, aim-bots, and similar, should never be attempted to download. Downloading such tools will almost always result in malware infection.

About the author

Lucia Danes
Lucia Danes - Virus researcher

Lucia is a News Editor for 2spyware. She has a long experience working in malware and technology fields.

Contact Lucia Danes
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References