A cryptocurrency malware developer has settled with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.
Developer Ryan Ramminger and Equiliv Investments were named in the settlement in connection with the development and distribution of a mobile app called Prized that contained hidden mining software.
Prized was initially marketed as a consumer rewards app. After security researchers discovered the app was designed to mine cryptocurrency in March, it was soon dropped from popular app venues like Google Play.
According to the FTC, the malware contained in the Prized app was used to mine a variety of digital currencies, including litecoin, dogecoin and quarkcoin.
The defendants, Ryan Ramminger and Equiliv Investments, are now required to pay $5,200 of a $50,000 settlement, with the remaining amount suspended per the agreement with federal and state law enforcement officials. Neither Ramminger or Equiliv confirmed or denied the charges.
Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement:
“Hijacking consumers’ mobile devices with malware to mine virtual currency isn’t just deplorable; it’s also illegal. These scammers are now prohibited from trying such a scheme again.”
The defendants are barred from knowingly distributing malware in the future, and face decades of reporting requirements.
Mining malware focused on mobile devices have appeared in various forms, many of which are distributed inocuously as mobile apps or downloadable game files. In some cases, users aren’t aware that their systems are being actively used to mine, with evidence appearing only in the event of poor battery life or an unusually high data usage rate.
The full court settlement can be found below: