One developer has been able to gross more than 50,000 downloads for one of their iOS apps, notching tenth place on the App Store‘s productivity board, while making $80,000 per month. But as Medium blogger Johnny Lin found out, the mechanism that Ngan Vo Thi Thuy exploited involves tricking gullible users in the app and spreading awareness of the app through ad listings on App Store searches.
The app, which was shoddily slapped together with poor English syntax and questionable security-compromising prompts, tells the user that their internet is “not safe” to use. Further along the line, users get a splash screen that encourages them to start a free trial of an anti-virus program. If a user does go through, a Touch ID prompt box pops up for authentication, but states that the user will pay $99.99 for an automatically renewing seven-day subscription.
Careless? Foolhardy? Unaware? You might be taken aback by such a line of procedure, — if you even get to such a point in the first place — but it only takes just 200 active subscriptions to amass $56,000 every month for the developer and $24,000 for Apple.
“Can you really not imagine one of your tech-illiterate relatives accidentally (or even intentionally) subscribing to this ‘free trial’ to protect their iPad from viruses?,” Lin asked.
How did this app even get 50,000 downloads? Well, crafty scammers have been bogging in on Search Ads, a relatively new promoted App Store listing program that Apple recently booted up. Getting your app on top of search results for terms such as “virus scanner” or “wifi” will only cost a little if the prospects of capturing tactical income can be as huge as this. Suspicious positive reviews also don’t help the fight.
If anyone is paying for a subscription for a questionable app, you should cancel and disable that subscription and use this form to contact Apple, filing under “Feedback and Concerns” and then “Report a Fraud Concern”. You’ll also have to file a separate form here to request a refund for those payments.
The Google Play Store has been improving security algorithms in order to cut down on fraud acts, but it has had the advantage of having promoted app listings for a while now. Then again, Apple should’ve known better than to let Search Ads become a Wild West for publishers sincere and illicit.
Click on the source link below for Johnny Lin’s full explanation of what’s going down.