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Dash developer speaks: Here's his full story

Dash, a popular app that developers used to reference documentation offline and manage code snippets, was recently pulled from the App Store following charges of review fraud. Apple claimed the account was linked to second account with over twenty other apps and involved in almost a thousand incidents. The developer of Dash, Kapeli, has claimed he didn't realize the link existed and that he wasn't responsible for the fraud. Previously, Apple provided me with the following comment on the situation:

"Almost 1,000 fraudulent reviews were detected across two accounts and 25 apps for this developer so we removed their apps and accounts from the App Store," an Apple spokesperson told iMore. "Warning was given in advance of the termination and attempts were made to resolve the issue with the developer but they were unsuccessful. We will terminate developer accounts for ratings and review fraud, including actions designed to hurt other developers. This is a responsibility that we take very seriously, on behalf of all of our customers and developers."

At the time, I also reached out to Kapeli — Bogdan Popescu — for a comment. He has now sent me this statement:

At this point it's impossible for me to protect my family and my private life anymore, so I'd like to tell the history of Kapeli and of everything I've done so far.In 2010 I made my first app, moveAddict. It was well received and although it's 6 years ago and it is my first app, I still stand behind it and am proud of it.Back then I was a student at Coventry University and asked my mother to set up a Romanian bank account for me to use for my app business. Although I was the only one to use this bank account, it ran under her name.I also made and released other apps, DockView being the most notable and best received of my products. I also launched some less successful apps: Switché, iGuard, iSecure, iClap and Stay Awake.In 2011 the Mac App Store was launched and I enrolled my Apple developer account. I was using the bank account my mother had opened for me.In 2012 I released Dash. It was very well received, but I continued to support and take care of my other apps as well.In 2013, my mother, who is an engineer herself, made an Apple developer account and started making apps on her own, including Ideal Weight and Brain GymI helped and encouraged her as much as I could, including paying for her first membership year using my credit card. Throughout the years I helped her whenever she asked me to, with coding issues or other things like converting images to icons for her apps. I also gave her Xcode projects I had and used as templates for new apps.In 2014 I realised that there was no possible way for me to support and develop all of my apps anymore and decided to focus on Dash exclusively. I told my family about this and they thought I wasn't rational, because my old apps were still making some money. My mother proposed I move some of my apps to her account and that she would handle the support and maintenance for those apps. I transferred the following apps: moveAddict, iGuard, iSecure, iClap and Stay Awake.Since then I've been focusing on Dash.Some clarifications:In early 2015 I finally got around to open a bank account in my name and have updated my developer account to send payments to it.When Apple said that the 2 developer accounts used the same bank account, what they meant was that the bank accounts used the same owner name until 2015. The 2 developer accounts never sent money to the exact same bank account (different IBAN). I have never received any money resulting from the actions of the other account.I did not want this story to blow over as it did. When Apple closed my account, I just wanted to notify my customers so that they knew how to migrate to the direct version of Dash.Once Apple told me what happened, I collaborated with them and did not talk to the press during that time. I also complied with their request to make a blog post telling the truth, which I sent a draft of, but never received a response. I thought I could leave my family out of this, but following Apple's statement the Internet kept digging, so I had to come forward and tell the whole story.I was not aware that the other account was involved with App Store review manipulation. I stopped following what she was doing after a while.I did not want to release any information on the developer that was behind the accused activity, in order to protect her identity.

Opinions have varied widely and changed rapidly as additional information has become available. But I don't think the situation will, at least not anymore. Apple's previous comment reads like their final statement on the matter, and it seems unlikely we'll see any further resolution.

Some developers in these cases have started fresh with new accounts. What happens next with Dash, though, we'll have to wait and see.

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

44 Comments
  • So... it's mom's fault.
  • ;-) ["wink"]
  • So his mother* never told him about Apple's (2 year long) messages regarding the alleged fraudulent reviews? Not once? C'mon. *Usually it's the other way around.
  • Agreed. I would like to give the developer benefit of the doubt, but he has told entirely different story few days ago. His story just gets stranger and stranger.
  • Another thing, »At the time, I also reached out to Kapeli — Bogdan Popescu — for a comment.« vs. https://twitter.com/kapeli/status/785813694861148160 "Kapeli
    ‏@kapeli @tzeejay @reneritchie @schwa I was never contacted by anyone at iMore.
    "
  • That was two days ago though.
  • Well, "at the time" (Ritchie trying to contact Bogdan) to me means around Oct. 10th, the date when Apple came out with their statement. On Oct. 11 Bogdan wrote that iMore.com never contacted him. So...
  • It's because Rene sent the message to his mom's account.
  • He's lying.
  • And I guess you know...right
  • Aged 18 and at university he didn't have a bank account?
    How was the student loan paid?
    How was he paid for part time jobs?
    How on earth did he get a credit card without a bank account?
  • You have to remember he's not American. Neither am I. When I was 18, I didn't have a bank account, but I had a credit card (that was paid by my parents). How was my student loan paid? There was none. University is free. Etc... Different countries and cultures, different needs.
  • He and I are in the UK.
  • I have a friend in Moscow and she just got her first bank account at 22. Its just different in other parts of the world. She never had a proper job though, just was a tutor. Had no credit card also, would always use the ones you buy in the store, pre paid ones.
  • sorry i just figured out what the exclamation mark was for
  • This sounds nice. How true all of it is, we don't know. If he wasn't cooperating fully with Apple because it was his own mother conducting the fraud - too bad. If your own mother doesn't care enough to be honest, and you get in trouble over it, then you need to report it. Being loyal is one thing. But his mother wasn't being loyal to him. As she was willing to trash him, he should have cooperated with Apple from the first time he found that out. I understand that family relationships can be difficult, but his reputation has been seriously compromised. His business has been, so far at least, essentially destroyed. This is not what I would call a healthy familial relationship!
  • This guy's story just keeps getting more and more convoluted, doesn't it? And oh so conveniently as each individual piece of evidence is comes to light. He's been playing the victim card from day 1.. Just look at his *original* side of the story, in which he criticises Apple for tenuously linking the accounts through the credit card and "some test hardware". Not the incredibly solid linking of the accounts through the sale of his entire back catalog of apps.
  • Great. Fine. Ok. Whatever. Thank you Apple and thank you Bogdan for making it difficult for me as a customer. So. Bogdan apologize for this mess. Apple restore service to your customers that depend on both of you..
  • So, you are suggesting Apple should do nothing when they spot store manipulation?
  • I do business in Romania regularly and lived there for a few years. I tend to believe his story. Not having a bank account isn't as unusual as it seems - at all. Without going into details, I can tell you that a scenario like his with the older generation being willing to bend/break the rules more than the younger generation isn't as uncommon as you think. Of course he could be lying. But before you so confidently say he is, it would be wise to better understand the culture, the impact of history in the late 20th century, the current and recent political situations and what it's like in the country. Hopefully, as a business person he learned he needs to control his most valuable assets and not count anyone including family.
  • "Not having a bank account isn't as unusual as it seems..." And what does this have to do with the 1000 fraudulent reviews? That also is common in Romania?
  • @oldAndbusted - not having a bank account has nothing to do with 1,000 fraudulent reviews. Just common. I would never characterize a country based on the actions of a sector of the population. And, while I know many extremely trustworthy and hard working Romanians, you don't have to go very far to find the opposite. type this in Google
    site:romania-insider.com fraud Many of you seem so surprised that the mother could be the guilty one of the fraudulent reviews and he's the young son that didn't handle it right. You could easily be mistaken. That's perspective is a very American perspective. I get it, but it's not realistic.
  • Anyone reading this who is, lets say, around thirty years old and was born behind the iron curtain is currently reading this and is thinking "yea, of course my parents would pay for 1000 fraudulent reviews without even having a second thought." It's a particular way of life learned against a massively fraudulent state apparatus. Seriously.
  • Well said Yuri.
  • > That also is common in Romania? Interesting country, Romania.
  • It actually is. Like all Eastern Block countries, coming from communism and a culture experience built around it and birthing democracy and capitalism is a world-wide experiment. To expect it to look like a country that's had those benefits in a short period is totally unrealistic. There will be countries that do it more successfully and countries that do it less successfully, but to expect to act / look like the U.S., Canada, etc., is not reasonable.
  • Let's say everything you said was true. Wouldn't he still be responsible? Even a little? Apple wasn't talking about account irregularities they were talking fraudulent reviews, some against other devs apparently. They already did as much as they could, all he has to do admit the wrongdoing and the account will be reinstated. I am not sure what else there is.
  • Yes, I believe he's responsible. My only comment was on whether what he was saying is true or not and the rush to judgement about truth without perspective and all the facts. That said, he has to live with the choices he made. They weren't wise ones.
  • I don't know if he is telling the truth. If he is, I can understand why he didn't tell the whole story at first, because that is a lot of dirty laundry being aired out right now. But I don't understand two things: 1) So he had created his account in 2010 (2011?), and his mom hers in 2012, and they were completely independent accounts. Except for the shared bank account name, and for the transferring of apps from his to her account. I can understand how to Apple this might have looked like he sort of migrated from the older to the newer account. But still, with both accounts being active, and both accounts being registered *under different names*, why didn't Apple contact both accounts? If they really only contacted his mother, yet targeted him as well, that seems like a huge mistake on Apple's part. They should have sent an identical message to both accounts to make sure. 2) He portrays his relationship to his mother rather tight, *and* she is an engineer. So I'm having a hard time believing that she received warnings for two years, ignored them and didn't tell her son about them. Because who cares about warnings from the company that gives you a marketplace, right? I'll bet the next "twist" in the story is going to be his mother stating that she looked into her spam folder just now and oh darn, it's full of Apple warnings. Who knew!! Or did Apple really only send one warning two years ago, and that was it? That's hard to believe. This story is too far-fetched to be completely made up. I believe him to some extent. Still, the matter of the 2-year-communication from Apple just evaporating sounds fishy. If one warning was overlooked, I accept that. If multiple warnings were overlooked, I don't buy it. And if there actually was only one warning (Apple's statement is ambiguous about that), then Apple messed up.
  • Two things. First - "At this point it's impossible for me to protect my family and my private life anymore". What the heck does this mean? Apple came after him and his family with a baseball bat? "protect" his family? And two - Nowhere in his explanation did he address the 1000 fraudulent reviews. Are we just to presume that it was his mother making these reviews? Did he really throw is mom under the bus without actually stating it like that?
  • Elsewhere on the internet you can find screenshots with the other apps and his moms name on the account.
  • Are you a stalker or what? And why are you saying this? To put his family in danger? What a dumb move...
  • No, this is in response to OldAndBusted's question about what Bogdan meant by "it is impossible for him to protect his family and his private life anymore". It's not Apple that came after Bogdan, it's the rest of the internet, by digging up his mom's name and the other list of apps. My message doesn't add any information to the general public that can use Google, just to OldAndBusted's question.
  • If "protecting" his family, even if they were guilty of fraud that affected him, assuming of course that he isn't guilty in this, should have resulted in his being honest with Apple from the beginning, which he wasn't. If that happened, his family wouldn't have been dragged into this in a public way. He could have done what they wanted, and separated the accounts, and let his mother's take the heat from Apple. From his own statements, he didn't do that. He was concealing what he says happened from Apple, which only made them justifiably suspicious. Even if his mother was at fault for improper behavior, he was at fault for not agreeing to let Apple know that. Perhaps it's too late for him now. He lied to Apple, for whatever the reason. I had two businesses over the years, employing up to 83 people for the larger one. If someone lied to me they would be gone from mine, and I would never do business with someone from the outside who lied to me, as protecting someone isn't a valid excuse.
  • If he opened a bank account in 2013, why did he support mom with a credit card ? he had money back then
  • So I am not quite following him here. The reason that Apple pulled his stuff off of the App store was that there were 1,000's of fraudulent reviews for his app(s). First he denies it outright, then he says the account which perpetrated the reviews was his mother's? I guess? Ok, so Apple says to acknowledge the wrong doing and move on with your life and keep going. He refused to acknowledge wrong doing, is he stating that Fraudulent reviews are ok? Even if his mother/relative did post fraudulent reviews he knew nothing about, he still bears some responsibility for giving account to his mother, right? Am I missing something?
  • Nobody has mentioned him secretly recording a phone conversation (which is illegal in some areas, unethical everywhere else) and then making it public. Although I found what Apple said during the phone conversation to be perfectly reasonable, if someone did that to me, that would be the last straw. I believe that is why Apple decided to stop giving him chances, and rightly so. He complains that Apple didn't respond to his draft blog post, but it seems like he only waited a day or so, then went ahead and screwed things up with the phone recording. Apple offered a way out which would have saved face for both parties (after all, he merely had to place blame on the "other developer" who actually committed the violations), but he didn't take it. This is his own fault how it ended up.
  • Good point about recording conversations, but it was only done to prove both sides.. Then again, i technically could record anyone with Zopier app on VoIP i use on iPhone all the time and no one would know until i posted it to youtube... *shrugs* illegal or not, its still "their" proof from he's view point i would image, regardless of weather it is actually right or wrong by Apple.
  • This is a classic case of the lie getting you into more trouble than the action. This could have been a non issue had he just come clean from the very beginning. Tell Apple the truth, apologize and ask for your account to be unassociated from your mothers. The family would never be brought up and Apple would have deactivated the mothers account and kept Dash in the App Store.
  • I agree. I continue to believe that at it's root, it's also really just about his ego. You can hear it in the phone conversation he recorded himself. "I don't want to," and, "I shouldn't have to." These are the words of a baby, not a grown man. The Apple rep asks him if what he is suggesting is reasonable and the guy agrees, but then basically just implies he doesn't want to do it, and of course eventually doesn't do it. He's a big-headed little pr1ck who didn't want to admit he was doing anything wrong. His own ego got in the way of a whole series of obvious and simple solutions to his problems and he consistently and repeatedly makes the whole situation worse each time by his own actions and words. The only reason any of this is even an issue, in question, or even mildly interesting is that his app is something that is loved by the "technorati" like Gruber et al. They idolize(d) him because they like his app. The shocking news these people need to swallow is that a person can be a great app developer and still be a horrible person. The same goes for rockstars, actors, directors, writers, artists, etc. Again, grown-ups should know this.
  • this story is so full of BS .... So basically was mom cheating on the account reviews. Sure ...
  • Human Nature: treacherous and unpredictable; who can know it, for sure?
  • This is more "human male nature" than "human nature."
  • There are two fundamental issues for me: 1. I don't believe that his mom was behind 1000 fraudulent reviews. No self-respecting engineer, especially one from an older generation would do this. They'd rather die poor and alone. 2. The recorded phone call. The posting of it was the last gasp of the condemned criminal. He seems pretty smart so he wouldn't have posted it if he had any hope of turning things around. It's like spitting in the face of the guy holding a knife to your throat. You don't do it unless you think you're doomed anyway.