Over the past year, developer Kosta Elftheriou has exposed several apps on the App Store that only exist purely to scam users. While Apple claims the App Store has “the apps you love” in a place “you can trust,” the developer has shown time and time again that this is not true.

Just yesterday, Apple published a report noting that developers have sold over $260 billion in digital goods and services since 2008, with over $60 billion just last year. Even though the App Store is, in fact, the best and only place to find whatever app you may need, it isn’t scam-proof – no matter what the company wants you to believe.

In a Twitter thread, Kosta, once again, shows how Apple is easily fooled by sketchy developers. He starts: “How to make $13,000,000 on the App Store.”

Kosta highlights an app called “AmpME – Speaker & Music Sync.” The app promises to boost the sound of your music by “syncing it with all of your friends’ phones, Bluetooth speakers, desktops, and laptops for FREE.” It has over 54,000 reviews, with a 4.3-star rating that would leave any Apple stock app jealous while ranking 18 in the Music section.

The problem starts with the fact that this app charges $10/week in an auto-renewing subscription that Kosta says is “easy to sign up for, but much harder to cancel.” Not only that, but the app buys a lot of fake reviews, as one user noted that there are high peaks of extremely positive reviews with long periods with barely any feedback or just negative ones.

According to the developer, this app has been available on the App Store since 2018. After all that time buying fake reviews, it’s only natural that, eventually, the app would drown out the real ones, with most of them becoming complaints about the app.

In the Twitter thread, Kosta highlights lots of users saying that the app is fraudulent:

“subverts the entire purpose of reviews”, “should be removed from the App Store”

“cheating the AppStore and creating fake 5-star reviews”

“90 percent of the 5 star reviews are fake”

If the availability of the app wasn’t bad for itself and for the App Store, the developer shows that the company has actively been featuring the app across the globe, as you can see in this screenshot.

“If you’re worried about Apple taking action, worry not – they’re also making millions off your app, and they’re happy to keep featuring it on the App Store, time and again,” noted the developer.

9to5Mac’s Take

The App Store is not perfect by any means, even though we still believe it’s the best place for users to find the apps they need. But, most importantly, if Apple wants to make sure it won’t have to let third-party app stores in its ecosystem, it better start taking action now.

We have reported the company highlighting scam apps on its store before; although Apple would say that “far more scam apps would make it into the App Store without the review process,” there’s still a lot the company needs to do to improve this process, as it’s not a good look when an app like this can pass the review.

You can find below Kosta’s thread about AmpME, as well as other coverage about scam apps on the App Store.

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About the Author

José Adorno

Brazilian tech Journalist. Author at 9to5Mac. Previously at tv globo, the main TV broadcaster in Latin America.

Got tips, feedback, or questions? jose@9to5mac.com