Hackers and scammers are always upto something with intentions to dupe you of either your data or your money. Thousands of high-quality apps saturate the Apple iOS, and out of them, there are some which can charge you large amounts of money for nothing and you may have no clue about it. Interestingly, some of these applications have been soaring high in the App Store rankings, according to a new report. According to a blogger on Medium website, scammers have now chosen smartphone application stores to target users by fraudulently making you pay money. Writing on the web portal, Johnny Lin in his article titled “How to Make $80,000 Per Month on the Apple App Store” highlights a number of apps which are free to download, which can hit you with high weekly subscription fees.
In one of the cases which have been identified, you may be charged as much as $99.99 (around Rs 6,500) every 7 days. That particular app was questionably called ‘Mobile Protection: Clean & Security VPN’ and was ranked number 10 in the top grossing productivity apps section of the store. It would be an enormous rip-off if it even worked, but there’s little evidence that it kept your phone clean and secure as claimed. But how do such ideas work? The answer, according to the report, is search ads. There is no filtering or approval process for them, so sketchy app developers can pay to have their apps listed high in search results.
And in the case of the example above it only takes 200 people falling for it to achieve those sorts of revenue levels, thereby getting it into a top 10 list, where it becomes even more visible. Lin, in the blog, wrote, “I scrolled down the list in the Productivity category and saw apps from well-known companies like Dropbox, Evernote, and Microsoft. That was to be expected. But what’s this? The #10 Top Grossing Productivity App (as of June 7th, 2017) was an app called “Mobile Protection: Clean & Security VPN”.
To learn how this could be, Lin installed and ran the app, and was soon prompted to start a “free trial” for an “anti-virus scanner” (iOS does not need anti-virus software thanks to Apple’s sandboxing rules for individual apps). Tapping on the trial offer then threw up a Touch ID authentication prompt containing the text “You will pay $99.99 for a 7-day subscription starting Jun 9, 2017”. The report analysed the number of downloads for these apps and pointed out that the scammer just needs to convert 0.4 percent people into enrolling for the weekly or monthly subscription charges to earn about $80,000 per month.
Lin dug deeper and found several other similar apps making money off the same scam, suggesting a wider disturbing trend, with scam apps regularly showing up in the App Store’s top grossing lists. It is a strange thing to be happening on Apple store since it has very strict mechanisms in place. Hopefully, when iOS 11 launches these bugs will be removed as well.
Meanwhile, it is important that you report such scam apps if you detect them and inform others too.