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FOX 5 I-Team

Highly ranked Android app called a 'fake'

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ATLANTA, Ga. -

Buying apps is so easy. You see something appealing, click on it, and in no time, you own it.

Those quick clicks recently left Android users without anything to show for it: an app that didn't work.

And we're not talking about a free or cheap app either. This Android app went for nearly four bucks. That's a lot in the app world.

"Virus Shield for Android" cost $3.99 and was briefly a top seller until an app watchdog group found a problem. Bloggers at "Android Police" said the 4.7 star-rated app was fake.

Soon after the bloggers posted an email they say they received from Google Play - where the app was sold. The email said the app developer made "the false claim that it provided one-click virus protection; in reality, it did not." In fact, it reportedly did nothing at all.

"Android Police" also said that buyers were promised refunds and credits. That's great, but how did a potentially fake app make it to the top of Google Play store's charts? Well, PC Magazine - which also tracks the industry - says Google Play is more open than Apple's "tightly controlled App Store." (But know that this tight control also draws its own criticism.)

Is Google Play reconsidering how it vets developers? They haven't responded to our requests. And the Android testers who say they first recognized this non-working, pricey app say no one at Google will talk to them either.

In the meantime, this is what you can do to protect yourself. You don't need to have an app first. Wait. Let it circulate a bit before jumping in. It's two-fold: You can let the fakes fall to the side. And, if the app is real, then bugs can get worked out before you pay.

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