SnapTube App Accused of Massive Subscription Fraud

John Lister's picture

An Android app with 40 million downloads has been linked to large-scale fraud against phone and tablet users. The "SnapTube" app reportedly tricks users with a free trial that leads to an expensive and unwanted subscription.

The operators of the app say they were previously victims of illegal activity by an advertising partner but have now fixed the problem.

SnapTube is a tool that was downloaded from the Google Play Store 40 million times before being removed. It was billed as a way to download videos from Facebook and YouTube, something that's not possible with those services own apps.

Unexpected Subscription Charges

Although the app was free to download, using it was technically a free trial offer. If the user didn't cancel the trial, they would later be switched to a recurring subscription fee. This was collected from a credit or other payment card linked to a Google account and normally used for paying for premium apps, videos, music and other Google Play paid content.

SnapTube's developer Mobiuspace have been accused of using "fleeceware" tactics which rely on user's either forgetting or being unaware that the free trial period would end and they would start being charged. On top of that, many users don't realize that uninstalling an app doesn't necessarily cancel a subscription.

Security firm Upstream made allegations against SnapTube last year, claiming that it had a host of problems including fraudulent secret calls and text messages to premium numbers and unwanted subscriptions to digital services other than SnapTube itself.

Mobiuspace says those issues have now been addressed. It says that a third party advertising toolkit was responsible for using rogue tactics. (Source:

Upstream says that it blocked an eye-watering 70 million fraudulent transactions involving SnapTube last year. This year it has already blocked 32 million.

How to Check Android Subscriptions

While blocking outright fraud can be difficult, the Daily Record notes that users can check their Android device for "legitimate" subscriptions that could have arisen after a free trial period ended. To do so, they should open the Google Play Store app on the device, tap the menu button (three horizontal lines), then tap "Subscriptions".

This will list any active subscriptions linked to the user's Google Play account and let them cancel if needed. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Have you ever knowingly signed up to a free trial of an app? Did you understand the need to cancel before the trial ended? Were you aware that uninstalling the app might not cancel the free trial?

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cjstaples's picture