Monday, June 12, 2017

That way scammers get $ 80,000 a month from the App Store

Apple recently announced that it has paid more than $ 70 billion to developers through the App Store, 30% of which ($ 21 billion) was paid last year. An impressive figure, no doubt, but, as Johnny Lin of Medium has discovered , not in all cases has been legitimately won. And there are scammers everywhere, including the App Store.
According to Lin in his interesting article, some "developers" are taking advantage of in-app and Search Ads subscriptions to trick users into subscribing to illegitimate services.
This is what Johnny Lin narrates:
"I moved down the list of productivity applications category and saw applications from well-known companies like Dropbox, Evernote, and Microsoft. That was to be expected. But what is this? The application in the 10th place by revenue of productivity apps (June 7, 2017) was an application called "Mobile protection: Clean & Security VPN".
Lin was curious to know how he got so much income from this application, so he downloaded it. Once downloaded, the application offered a free trial of its "smart antivirus" . When they access, they ask you to identify with Touch ID ... luckily, Lin read all the text that appeared in the box. Take a look:
"Full Virus and Malware Scanner": What? I'm pretty sure it's impossible that any application can scan my iPhone for viruses or malware, since third-party applications are shielded to their own data, but let's continue reading ...
"You will pay $ 99.99 for a 7-day subscription"
Buried in the third line of a small font text paragraph, iOS, like someone who does not want the thing, tells me that if I put my finger on the Home button it means that I'm agreeing to start a $ 100 subscription. And not only that, they are 100 DOLLARS A WEEK . Was I a Touch ID sign up for a $ 400 monthly subscription to divert all my internet traffic to a scammer?
I guess I was lucky to have read all the small text. But what about other people? "
It seems that there are other people who, indeed, do not read the small text, and subscribes, probably inadvertently, to this service that serves no purpose, but costs a whopping $ 99.99 weekly, because the Application, according to the data of Sensor Tower , obtains an income of no less than $ 80,000 monthly ... and all without giving any real service to its unwary users.
And, with a rate of $ 400 per month, it is not so difficult to make a profit of $ 80,000 a month: you only need to fool 200 people and, considering that the application has an average of 50,000 monthly downloads, this means that only You need to convert 0.4% of purchases ... or even less, because you have to keep in mind that subscriptions are renewed automatically, so if users do not cancel them, they continue to pay each month.
But how do these "developers" get their applications so well placed in the App Store? According to Lin, many of them are manipulating "Search Ads" to do so . Currently, Apple has no filters, nor an approval process for Search Ads:
"It turns out that scammers are abusing the Search Ads feature of the App Store, which is relatively new and immature. They are taking advantage of the fact that there are no filters or an approval process for the ads, and that the ads are almost indistinguishable from the actual results, and sometimes the ads occupy the entire first page search.
Afterwards, I inquired further to discover that, unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents - this is quite common in the App Store's revenue listings. And this does not only happen with security-related keywords. It seems that scammers are betting on many other important keywords. "
Hopefully, with iOS 11, Apple include improvements to its Search Ads, to avoid such practices. At the moment, Search Ads does not appear in the beta of iOS 11, which could mean that there will be developments in the future.
Let's hope so. Meanwhile, and as always, be very careful what we downloaded, and always read the fine print.
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