Fleeceware apps have ripped off more than $400 million from users

App Store on iPhone
App Store on iPhone (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Fleeceware apps have earned over $400 million dollars between the App Store and Play Store.
  • The apps charge unreasonable recurring fees in order to have access to the app's features.

Fleeceware apps are ripping people off to the tune of $400 million between the App Store and Play Store.

In a blog post, Avast, an antivirus and VPN service, revealed that 204 fleeceware applications have managed to gobble up over $400 million in revenue across Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store. The company has reported all of the apps to both companies in order to have them removed.

Researchers at Avast have discovered a total of 204 fleeceware applications with over a billion downloads and over $400 million in revenue on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. The purpose of these applications is to draw users into a free trial to "test" the app, after which they overcharge them through subscriptions which sometimes run as high as $3,432 per year. These applications generally have no unique functionality and are merely conduits for fleeceware scams. Avast has reported the fleeceware applications to both Apple and Google for review.

Fleeceware apps generally fulfill the original promise of what the app does but charges an exorbitant recurring fee to maintain access to the app. According to the report, most of the apps that practice this particular version of shadiness are image editors, musical instrument apps, and QR code readers.

The fleeceware applications discovered consist predominantly of musical instrument apps, palm readers, image editors, camera filters, fortune tellers, QR code and PDF readers, and 'slime simulators'. While the applications generally fulfil their intended purpose, it is unlikely that a user would knowingly want to pay such a significant recurring fee for these applications, especially when there are cheaper or even free alternatives on the market.

The entire post is very informative and, if you are trying to protect yourself from these kinds of apps, Avast has put together some tips to do so.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.