• June 19, 2021

Exclusive: Is Apple’s App Store Teeming With Scams?

 Exclusive: Is Apple’s App Store Teeming With Scams?


Apple’s tightly controlled App Store is teeming with scams,” argues a 3,000-word exposé in Sunday’s Washington Post

“Among the 1.8 million apps on the App Store, scams are hiding in plain sight.

Customers for several VPN apps, which allegedly protect users’ data, complained in Apple App Store reviews that the apps told users their devices have been infected by a virus to dupe them into downloading and paying for software they don’t need. A QR code reader app that remains on the store tricks customers into paying $4.99 a week for a service that is now included in the camera app of the iPhone. Some apps fraudulently present themselves as being from major brands such as Amazon and Samsung. Of the highest 1,000 grossing apps on the App Store, nearly two percent are scams, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. And those apps have bilked consumers out of an estimated $48 million during the time they’ve been on the App Store, according to market research firm Appfigures.

The scale of the problem has never before been reported. What’s more, Apple profits from these apps because it takes a cut of up to a 30 percent of all revenue generated through the App Store.

Even more common, according to The Post’s analysis, are “fleeceware” apps that use inauthentic customer reviews to move up in the App Store rankings and give apps a sense of legitimacy to convince customers to pay higher prices for a service usually offered elsewhere with higher legitimate customer reviews…

Apple has long maintained that its exclusive control of the App Store is essential to protecting customers, and it only lets the best apps on its system. But Apple’s monopoly over how consumers access apps on iPhones can actually create an environment that gives customers a false sense of safety, according to experts… Apple isn’t the only company that struggles with this issue: They’re also on Google’s Play Store, which is available on its Android mobile operating system. But unlike Apple, Google doesn’t claim that its Play Store is curated. Consumers can download apps from different stores on Android phones, creating competition between app stores…

When it comes to one type of scam, there’s evidence that Apple’s store is no safer than Google’s. Avast analyzed both the Apple and Google app stores in March, looking for fleeceware apps. The company found 134 in the App Store and 70 on the Play Store, with over a billion downloads, about half on Android and half on iOS, and revenue of $365 million on Apple and $38.5 million on Android. Most the victims were in the United States.



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Reporters Team

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