App developer DO Global, a Chinese developer partly owned by Baidu that generates over a half billion installs, has been banned from Google Play after the store received reports the apps were part of an ad fraud scheme, according to BuzzFeed News.
As of April 26, 46 apps from DO Global had reportedly been removed from the Play store. In addition, the news outlet reported that ad inventory for purchase through Google’s AdMob networks is no longer available in DO Global apps, “suggesting the ban has also been extended to the internet giant’s ad products.”
After earlier reports that a cache of apps was part of an ad fraud scheme, Google investigated malicious behavior. “When we find violations, we take action, including the removal of a developer’s ability to monetize their app with AdMob or publish on Play,” a Google spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.
On April 27, DO Global issued the following statement:
In the past week, we have noticed a series of reports about our apps by the media. We fully understand the seriousness of the allegations. As such, we immediately conducted an internal investigation on this matter. We regret to find irregularities in some of our products’ use of AdMob advertisements. Given this, we fully understand and accept Google’s decision. Moreover, we have actively cooperated with them by doing a thorough examination of every app involved.
We would like to thank the media, our partners, and the public for their support. Moving forward, we will strictly follow relevant regulations and continue conducting a comprehensive review of our products. Lastly, during this process, we have caused misunderstandings and great concern due to our being unable to communicate in a timely manner and provide complete information. We offer our sincere apologies.
The news comes only weeks after Check Point researchers reported a clicker campaign that was using malware to conduct fraudulent activities against ad agencies in a series of infected applications from Google Play. Infosecurity has reached out to Google for comment, and this story will be updated if we receive a response.