FaceApp security warning: fake versions spreading

FaceApp security warning: fake versions spreading
Patrick Devaney

Patrick Devaney

  • Updated:

If you haven’t seen an aged version of a friend or family member recently you’ve either been living in a cave somewhere or you’ve possibly been the victim of some sort of unknown EMP-type event. FaceApp has taken the internet by storm with its realistic AI aging filter. FaceApp is an AI-powered photo manipulation app that has a few different filters, but it is the aging filter that has garnered so much popularity recently.

FaceApp scam


The FaceApp aging filter has become so popular that there are plenty of people out there who would be willing to pay for a premium version of the free app. If you’re one of those people or you know somebody who might be one of them remember this; there is no premium version of FaceApp. If you find a premium version of FaceApp it is a scam.

Researchers have discovered a number of different scams relating to FaceApp

The first scam highlighted by security researcher Lukas Stefanko on the We Live Security blog relates to a fake pro version of FaceApp like the one detailed above. The “pro” version of the app is advertised on a fake website.

What’s worse, the “pro” version is advertised as a “free premium” app, which doesn’t even make any sense. All the website will do is push users to click an endless number of ads, sign up to various subscriptions, and view special offers for other paid apps.

This is a fake FaceApp pro website
Image via: We Live Security – Beware of fake FaceApp pro websites like this one

After what must have seemed like an eternity’s worth of clicks, all Stefanko and his team ended up with was the regular version FaceApp that is available on the Google Play Store.

Another scam Stefanko’s team have uncovered comes via YouTube videos. Their blog post shows a YouTube video that has well over 150,000 views, which again describes a fake “pro” version of FaceApp. The YouTube videos also contain shortened links in their descriptions where users can download the fake apps. In reality, much like with the fake website scam, these only lead users to apps that are simply designed to deliver ads to the unsuspecting user.

What’s worse about these YouTube scams is that shortened links offer scammers a great way to make people go to sites that are infected with malware.

Shortened links can hide a lot of the key giveaways that we should look out for when we suspect a link could be fake or malicious. Although, this isn’t the case with any of the shortened links the We Live Security team found, relating to the fake “pro” versions of FaceApp, we still need to be careful.

Image via: We Live Security – Looking for a “pro” version of FaceApp will only ever find you spam ads like this one or something worse.

The key takeaway here is to not allow ourselves to become too carried away by viral hype and lose our senses in the process. Stefanko has this important message, that we should all remember when there is a viral app doing the rounds. “Hype attracts scammers, and the bigger the wave, the higher the risk of falling victim of a scam. Before joining the hype, users should remember to stick to basic security principles.

Regardless how exciting the topic is, avoid downloading apps from sources other than official app stores, and examine available information about the app (developer, rating, reviews, etc.). Especially in the Android ecosystem.” Fake apps are a common problem, but they’re particularly dangerous when everybody is talking about the newest big thing.

If you want a more detailed explanation on how to avoid fake apps in the Google Play Store check out the short guide we’ve written below.

Patrick Devaney

Patrick Devaney

Patrick Devaney is a news reporter for Softonic, keeping readers up to date on everything affecting their favorite apps and programs. His beat includes social media apps and sites like Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat. Patrick also covers antivirus and security issues, web browsers, the full Google suite of apps and programs, and operating systems like Windows, iOS, and Android.

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