Apple App Store isn't as scam-free as you might think

The back of an iPhone
(Image credit: Future)

A new investigation has revealed that 18 of the top 1,000 highest grossing apps on Apple’s App Store are guilty of scamming iOS users.

While there’s nothing new about scam apps on mobile stores, finding them on Apple's marketplace is more concerning. One of the company's main justifications its tight control over the iOS apps ecosystem is so it can shield customers from insecure and duplicitous apps.

However, according to an investigation by The Washington Post, scam apps are “hiding in plain sight" on the App Store.

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Based on figures from market research firm Appfigures, the report suggests the scam apps have milked about $48 million from iOS users. Some of this cash is expected to have made its way into Apple’s coffers too, as the iPhone maker charges developers up to 30% of revenue generated through the App Store.

Scam apps on iOS

The investigation revealed that app makers use fake customer reviews to propel their products up the rankings and trick users into paying higher prices.

The Washington Post also claims it identified complaints from customers of several VPN services suggesting the apps infected their devices with viruses and pushed unnecessary bloatware.

The list of dubious apps also includes a QR code reader that costs $4.99 a week, for a function that can now be performed by the iPhone’s default camera app

Further, the investigation revealed some apps are mimicking the branding of renowned companies - such as Amazon and Samsung - to deceive App Store customers.

In all, the Washington Post reported eighteen offending apps to Apple, two thirds of which have now been removed from the App Store.

TechRadar Pro reached out to Apple to ask if any sort of inquiry has been initiated, but the company has not yet provided a response.

Via Washington Post

Mayank Sharma

With almost two decades of writing and reporting on Linux, Mayank Sharma would like everyone to think he’s TechRadar Pro’s expert on the topic. Of course, he’s just as interested in other computing topics, particularly cybersecurity, cloud, containers, and coding.