Apple removes $300k/month scam app, developer still at large
What you need to know
- Apple has removed a clone of the popular 'FlickType' app for Apple Watch that netted scammers $300,000 a month.
- Despite this, the developers have another app on the app store charging unsuspecting users over $400 a year for subscriptions.
Apple has removed a clone of 'FlickType' that was scamming users out of thousands of dollars every month, but the developers and a similar app remain at large.
From a feature by TechCrunch:
According to the report, fake imitation apps were flooded with fake reviews and ratings to inflate their App Store rankings and to try to convince users to download them.
There are hundreds of these. And then, there's hundreds of *real* ones too:
"SCAM. What shady business. Downloaded this app on concept. It doesn’t even work. There is no free version AT ALL. You are tricked into downloading and then asked to pay $7.99 per FREAKING WEEK. Wow."There are hundreds of these. And then, there's hundreds of *real* ones too:
"SCAM. What shady business. Downloaded this app on concept. It doesn’t even work. There is no free version AT ALL. You are tricked into downloading and then asked to pay $7.99 per FREAKING WEEK. Wow."— Kosta Eleftheriou (@keleftheriou) January 31, 2021January 31, 2021
The report highlights not only the issue of buying fake App Store and Google Play reviews but also Apple's rules that are supposed to prevent fraudulent reviews. According to Eleftheriou, the fake app 'KeyWatch', which was netting its creator $300,000 a month, is now gone from the App Store. However, the developer and a similar app pulling in $200,000 every month with $416 a year subscriptions remain at large.
As the report notes, the issue calls into questions the rules around fraudulent app development and Apple's enforcement of them:
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Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.
Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9
I would like to see Apple do a better job of surfacing app subscription costs and IAP costs. $416 a year is absurd for a virtual keyboard app, and $99 IAPs are ridiculous for a "free to play" game, and this sort of pricing should be made much more visible. Instead of just saying "In-App Purchases" the App Store page could show the minimum, average, median and maximum monthly expenditures by paying users. Knowing the average and median amount spent would show what the real cost of the app is for a typical user, and knowing the maximum amount would clarify how much "whales" could end up spending on an app. I would also be in favor of apps having a maximum monthly purchase limit and listing that amount. If the amount ever changes, then users should be warned. Moreover, Apple could actually enforce the limit since they control payment.
It's also surprising that blatantly copying the exact demo videos from another app wouldn't be against a violation of Apple's terms of service (not to mention copyright law.)
Did anyone check the complainant developer app reviews(FlickType)? Many people complain about fraud because the developer charges twice(paid app + another payment inside the app to use). Check here: https://sensortower.com/ios/US/kpaw-llc/app/flicktype-watch-keyboard/135...