Shady iOS Developer Using App Store Search Ads To Scam People On An Epic Scale

A rather shocking report has come to light over the weekend of a scam app charging people a staggering $400 per month through an in-app purchase disguised as a free trial. Oh yeah, the app does nothing and was approved by Apple who supposedly has tight controls on what get approved in the App store. Now if you read through this story, it’s quite shocking that this was even approved by Apple in the first place. Here’s why:

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”.

Given the terrible title of this app (inconsistent capitalization, misplaced colon, and grammatically nonsensical “Clean & Security VPN?”), I was sure this was a bug in the rankings algorithm. So I check Sensor Tower for an estimate of the app’s revenue, which showed… $80,000 per month?? That couldn’t possibly be right. Now I was really curious.

I tap into the app details to see that the developer is “Ngan Vo Thi Thuy”. Wait so, this is a VPN service offered by an independent developer who didn’t even bother to incorporate a company? That’s a huge red flag. For those of you who don’t know why this is bad, a VPN basically routes all your internet traffic through a third party server. So in this case, a random person who couldn’t piece together a grammatically correct title, who also didn’t bother to incorporate a company, wants access to all your internet traffic.

What’s even worse is that in the description for the app, it is apparently “full of features.”

#EpicFail

So one has to wonder how many people have forked over $80K a month, of which Apple nets a 30% cut, for this scam app? One has to also wonder how many apps like this Apple has approved either through greed, which I would hope isn’t the case, or lack of care and attention, which is more likely the case? All I know is that Apple needs to address this and address this now. Otherwise, they’ll start looking like Google Play which is a app store that they’ve criticized for this sort of thing in the past.

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