Scam app AmpMe rakes in $13 million on the back of thousands of fake reviews

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App Store icon (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • AmpMe has been using thousands of fake reviews to make itself appear to be a popular app.
  • App Store critic Kosta Eleftheriou believes the app has raked in $13 million since 2008.
  • AmpMe has a $10 weekly subscription costing users $520 per year.

Following a self-congratulatory press release in which Apple lauded its App Store and plethora of services, another scam app has been outed by critic Kosta Eleftheriou. A music app named AmpMe has an in-app purchase that enables a $10 per week subscription that runs $520 per year with the business built around thousands of fake App Store reviews.

Eleftheriou outed the app via a long Twitter thread in which he details how the app has been able to amass income of around $13 million since 2018 — mainly thanks to the huge number of reviews that have been left in an attempt to make the app appear legitimate. Those fake reviews are from names that are so obviously non-genuine that it's laughable.

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Notably, one of the few real reviews left for AmpMe appears to be from someone who runs their own fake review business — and they reckon they know exactly what's going on.

This could be a good app, but the morons who are in charge of their ad campaign must also handle their pricing. I have a side business that specializes in fake reviews, so I know fake reviews when I see them. The cost to value for this app is way the heck off. Under no circumstances should anybody be expected to pay 20+ dollars for something like this. It is asinine. I'm probably going to get an auto response of something of the sort "hi, we're sorry you did not like our app please contact our support we would love to hear your feedback, vada yada" like I said, this could be a good app but it's young clueless developers are looking more to make money and then produce in a quality product.

The Twitter thread also points out that Apple has featured AmpMe repeatedly and as recently as August of last year.

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Many have since pointed to Apple's claims that it keeps these kinds of apps out of the App Store and that it has teams of people checking apps for similar practices. The problem Apple has is the sheer scale of the App Store and the number of apps in it, making it impossible to police fully. However, perhaps some more rigorous checks are needed before featuring an app in the App Store when it's so obviously buying fake reviews.

There is no doubt that the App Store is one of the best iPhone features in many ways. But it's far from perfect.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.