From Elon Musk Twitter impersonators to dubious Discord chats, cryptocurrency and non-replaceable token (NFT) scammers have stolen billions of dollars from investors in recent years. But now politicians and law enforcement are turning their attention to Apple and Google — companies that operate massive app stores — and how they rate fraudulent crypto apps.
In letters to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Thursday, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) asked the companies to explain their processes in reviewing and approving crypto trading and wallet apps for download on their app stores. Brown’s research follows: a recently released FBI report warning that 244 investors have been scammed out of $42.7 million in less than a year by fraudulent cryptocurrency apps claiming to be credible investment platforms.
“Crypto mobile apps are available to the public through app stores, including Apple’s App Store,” the senator wrote to Cook on Thursday. “While cryptocurrency apps have provided investors with easy and convenient ways to trade cryptocurrency, reports have emerged of fake crypto apps defrauding hundreds of investors.”
Apple and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Earlier this month, several federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Justice, began taking action against crooks accused of stealing millions and sometimes billions of dollars from consumers. Even as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have fallen in price, the prevalence of scams has continued to grow.
In the letters, Brown asked the CEOs to detail their crypto app review and monitoring processes to prevent apps from “transforming into phishing” scams. He is also looking for information that Apple and Google have provided to consumers about fake investment apps.
“While companies offering crypto investments and other related services should take the necessary steps to prevent fraudulent activity, including alerting investors about the proliferation of scams, it is also imperative that app stores have proper precautions in place to prevent fraudulent activities. prevent mobile application activity,” the senator wrote.
The questions came hours before the Senate Banking Committee chaired by Brown was scheduled to hold a hearing with cryptocurrency experts on ways Congress could reduce scams in the crypto and securities markets.
Apple and Google have until August 10 to respond to the senator’s requests.