These scam macOS apps won't let you quit without paying a subscription

The App Store on a phone screen
(Image credit: Shutterstock / BigTunaOnline)

Despite Apple’s rigorous App Review process, a new crop of scam apps for macOS have been discovered on the company’s App Store (opens in new tab).

As reported by The Verge (opens in new tab), principal software engineer at Red Hat, Edoardo Vacci discovered the first in the latest batch of scam apps. The app in question, My Metronome, locks up and won’t allow users to quit using either the menu bar or keyboard shortcuts (it can be Force Quit though) until they agree to pay a $9.99 per month subscription.

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According to FlickType founder and scam app hunter Kosta Eleftheriou who spoke with The Verge, the developer behind My Metronome seems to have “experimented with various techniques over the years of preventing people from closing the paywall”.

Following a tweet (opens in new tab) from Eleftheriou, My Metronome was removed from the App Store but its developer, Music Paradise, LLC is also connected to another app development company called Groove Vibes that has created similar scam apps. In fact, according to the privacy policies of both companies, they’re registered at the same address and both mention Akadem GmbH.

Pay to quit apps

To see for themselves, The Verge decided to test Music Paradise’s Music Paradise Player app along with all of the Mac apps made by Groove Vibes.

According to the news outlet, all of the apps it tested immediately displayed a pop-up that asked users to sign up for a subscription. While three apps from Groove Vibes allowed users to quit using the menu bar or by pressing Command+Q, two of the company’s apps along with the Music Paradise Player app greyed out the quit option in the menu bar and prevented users from clicking the red button at the corner to close the app. Keyboard shortcuts were also of no use.

Unlike ransomware (opens in new tab), the apps in question don’t lock users out of their files but instead prevent users from easily closing them so that they fall for the scam and sign up for a monthly subscription instead.

Surprisingly, all of these scam apps (opens in new tab) appeared to slip through the cracks during Apple’s App Review process which should have prevented them from being published in the first place. While scams like these do reappear from time to time, at least Apple added a “Report a Problem (opens in new tab)” button to the App Store so at least users can warn the company about scam apps.

Via The Verge (opens in new tab)

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.