Bill Hartzer

Beware of Scam Apps in Apple App Store, Links to Innocent Websites

Beware of scam apps that are in the Apple App Store that have been submitted by rogue developers. There are developers that are scamming Apple users, and making money from apps that don’t work. Dishonest app developers are creating apps that don’t work as described—and are linked to other innocent websites.

Here’s how the scam works:

1. A developer creates an app with a ‘popular’ name and description. Sometimes this will be copied directly from another popular app.

2. The app gets approved by Apple, despite the fact that the game or app is not working or doesn’t work as described.

3. In the App Store’s description, there are support links to contact the developer. The support links in the descriptions typically link to sites that don’t have anything to do with the developer. They link to the victim’s website.

4. You (or someone else) purchases the app and find out that it doesn’t work or doesn’t work as described. As a result, you (or someone else) request(s) a refund from Apple for the $2.99 or $3.99 you paid for the app.

5. When you request the refund, Apple simply tells you to contact the app developer for a refund. But, it turns out that the developer knows that people will request refunds. So, anticipating this, they created a link in the description of the app to an innocent website (not their website). That way all the complaints and requests for refunds will go to someone else, not the original app developer.

Take a look at the example below:

The “support” link in the description of the app links to a site, MiniGames.com, which technically doesn’t actually create apps. They never have and never plan on creating apps. The scammer developer has linked to this innocent website–and people are complaining to them, asking for refunds.

In this case, the app I’m showing above as an example has now been deleted and removed from the Apple App Store. You may still be able to see it in Google’s or Bing’s cache in their search results, as I have verified it just now.

This continues to happen over and over again, rogue developers are scamming Apple and Apple customers who are purchasing and downloading games or apps from the App store. When a refund is requested, an innocent website is involved–who is not the original developer of the app.

I thought Apple did a better job at screening the apps that are in the App Store?

How to Protect Yourself

There are a few things that you can do in order to protect yourself from this scam in the Apple App Store. Before you download an app, make sure that you take a look at a few things:

1. Take a look at the name of the developer. If you’re downloading an app from a company, like the American Airlines app, make sure that the developer is actually the name of the company and not someone else.

2. Look to see how many reviews and stars that the app has. If it doesn’t have many start (or if it has no stars), and it doesn’t have any reviews, you should be wary of the app.

3. Take a look at any support links or links to support websites that are linked in the description of the app. If the link doesn’t match up with the name of the developer, then be wary of the app. In the case of the scam apps being uploaded to the Apple App Store, the website linked to doesn’t create apps. So clicking on the link would most likely reveal this.

The scam may be working (and there might be a lot more victims than we think) because of the amount that is spent for the app is typically $2.99 or an amount under $10. Many victims may not report the app because it’s a small amount of money.

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