Fake reviews for apps on the Play Store are nothing new per se, but according to TNW, they’re growing, and they’re getting smarter.

Online bots posting fake reviews on the Play Store is not a new phenomenon; however, TNW claims that this type of behavior is becoming more widespread in the Play Store and that Google must respond accordingly. The issue first emerged as WhatsApp saw a sudden surge in five-star ratings, which were obviously fake: blank usernames commenting what a “fun game” it is and how great the “bonuses” are, all of whom gave a five-star rating.

However, now it looks like the problem isn’t unique to WhatsApp. These bots are spreading across other popular apps on the Play Store such as Chrome, Gmail, and Facebook Messenger, most likely in an effort to build their credibility. These fake reviewers would later go on to leave fake five-star reviews on paid apps, and their history of reviews would “prove” that these accounts weren’t created simply to boost the ratings of the said paid apps.

These bots are spreading across other popular apps on the Play Store such as Chrome, Gmail, and Facebook Messenger, most likely in an effort to build their credibility.

It’s not too difficult to spot the fake reviews. For instance, their usernames are usually blank and not linked to any specific account whereas most real users go by their names or something similar. Also, their review content tends to revolve around game references even if the app they’re reviewing has nothing to do with games. Even for Chrome or Gmail, it’s not hard to find multiple comments that praise them for being great and fun games.

The trouble is, however, these fake reviews are growing in number and intelligence. According to data gathered by AppAnnie, suspicious positive reviews are increasing at a fast rate, and these bots aren’t just giving out five stars anymore. By diversifying with less positive ratings, they are becoming harder to track. Of course, their ultimate goal isn’t to inflate ratings of well-established apps like Chrome, Gmail, and Messenger. The real work comes afterwards when they use these same accounts to post positive reviews on paid apps, which are often subpar and/or harmful to your device.

TNW states that this seems to be a problem unique to the Play Store, which makes sense to an extent given Apple’s rigorous monitoring. Google hasn’t provided any official response yet, but fake reviews are a recurring issue for Android and need to be addressed in an effective manner. After all, with over 1 billion active users comes a heavy responsibility.

Have you seen any fake reviews on the Play Store? Have you been a victim of fake reviews? Let us know in the comments below!