Scammers use Fake In-App subscriptions to make money from the Apple App Store

Most of the trending apps on the store are fake, and are scamming users with multiple in-app purchases and subscriptions

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Highlights

    • Scammers making money through in-app purchases
    • Scammers are taking advantage of Apple’s new App Store search ads
    • A single app is netting $80,000 a month by scamming people

Apple recently, at worldwide developer’s conference announced that they had paid a total of $21 Billion to developers in the app store in the previous year. But Johnny Lin an app developer has analysed the app store to find that most of the trending apps on the store are fake, and are scamming users with multiple in-app purchases and subscriptions.Some scammers have started to abuse Apple’s new App Store search ads.

Apple app store

These app developers with the help of strategically placed search ads and a little bit help of SEO gain the top positions in the app store and then make their users make in-app purchases and subscribe to their apps to generate money.

Johnny Lin in a blog post wrote –

“They’re taking advantage of the fact that there’s no filtering or approval process for ads, and that ads look almost indistinguishable from real results, and some ads take up the entire search result’s first page, I dug deeper to find that unfortunately, these aren’t isolated incidents, they’re fairly common in the app store’s top grossing lists. And this isn’t just happening with security related keywords. It seems like scammers are bidding on many other keywords.”

The Blog post made by Johnny also listed apps like Mobile Protection: Clean & Security VPN which charges users $99.99 per week for a service that does nothing. The marketing firm Sensor Tower estimated that this app alone has netted the developer $80,000 per month.

Apple though has been on the hunt for these kinds of apps which trick users to generate revenue, some apps still pass through the filtering process and have populated the app store.

Unfortunately, if you are amongst the people who have downloaded these kinds of apps from the app store and paid a fee, here’s how you can save yourself from making further payments –

  • Open Settings
  • Go to iTunes & App Store → Apple ID → View Apple ID.
  • Enter your Apple ID and password.
  • Open Subscriptions
  • Then tap on the subscriptions you want to cancel.