Mac AppStore apps with fake reviews

1337watchdog

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 24, 2016
17
8
Recently while I was surfing on the Mac AppStore I noticed a high growth of the app such as adware removal, adware cleaner, adware doctor and antivirus.
This caught my attention since I know that in order to provide a great product that will protect the Mac for sure against malware you must have a good team in order to collect and extract malware signatures.

My surprise was that most of the like:

Adware Doctor - Remove adware malware blah blah blah
Adware Removal - Remove adware malware blah blah blah
Adware Remover
Antivirus...............this is just an example and the list can continue

are not even scanning for malware/adware. They are just cleaning the browser cache and restoring your browser, things that you can do easy without paying.

So far so good, if someone wants to pay to clean the browser it is not a problem, but what I also noticed is that most of the developers are using, pay attention, a system to self-review their apps using and the scheme they are using is pretty simple:

Scheme 1 noticed on the developer named: YONGMING ZHANG (btw this guy contacted me after I posted on other forum and told me: "We are not manipulating the review system" YEAH right, have a look on the AppStore with search adware how is possible that among 7-8 adware apps only YOUR app has 100+ reviews.... I am the only one who is seeing that something is really "fishy" here?)

When he is launching the app or update he is offering the so called "security app" for FREE for a few days. In this days he is creating lots of Apple AppStore usernames and he downloads the app - because it is for FREE.
After he has lots of AppStore usernames with his app downloaded he is starting to self-review his app with 5 stars reviews - as far as I noticed he is reviewing not more than 3-4 5 star reviews per day.

Scheme 2 noticed on many developers such as Solaz Dazen Srl or Pocket Bits LLC both of this developers are selling "Antivirus" and "BitMedic Antivirus" apps.

They used a pay for review system provided by the (BestReviewApp). - After a closer look at this system the guys who has this platform are simply promoting your app on their platform and are paying the users who are downloading and reviewing your app (recommending you to review it with 4 or 5 stars.

If you will open Mac AppStore, go to the apps mentioned and click on a 5 star review for example the one given by the username "HerbertTFoulk" you will notice that this user is reviewing both apps and other apps only with 5 stars reviews. (Screenshots attached to this post for proof)

Manipulating the review system is forbidden by the Apple and will result in account termination according to the Apple, but nobody cares.

It's a shame that the Apple review system and most important the Apple staff are allowing this.

1. You can't name your app Antivirus or Adware removal or Adware cleaner and your app does not have anything to do with that.
2. The manipulation system of the reviews. Customers are manipulating to buy products when they see that other fake buyers are saying that the product is so "great"

Hope that my post will trigger some investigations against this apps and Apple will take the right actions.

Why I am saying that "Apple does not care" is because I did contact their review team via e-mail many times, providing lots of information on what is going on and the only reply I go is that: "We have received your e-mail, your Ticket # is, we will investigate".

Nothing happened and I think that nothing will happen. The only ones who are losing are us, regular customers. Not all the customers have a good knowledge to spot "fishy" apps and they will fall for sure in the developer trick.

P.S: I would be happy also other users to come and report this to Apple. Maybe in this way we can solve something.

 

superscape

macrumors 6502a
Feb 12, 2008
930
218
East Riding of Yorkshire, UK
Have you tried the "Report a concern" route (next to each app). I'm not sure what the procedure for reporting this is. It's certainly an abuse of the system and frustrating for those of us trying to play fair.
 

1337watchdog

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 24, 2016
17
8
Have you tried the "Report a concern" route (next to each app). I'm not sure what the procedure for reporting this is. It's certainly an abuse of the system and frustrating for those of us trying to play fair.
Yes I've done that several times but without luck :(
Definitely it's an abuse you can even see with a simple search on keyword "adware" or "antivirus".
 

1337watchdog

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 24, 2016
17
8
The app stores are basically crapware ghettos, and will remain so until Apple realizes that having a small number of quality apps is better than having a large pile of junk apps.
Yea that's right. Even the Apple guys who are reviewing the apps before they are available for sale on AppStore are not doing the job right.
For example a few months ago the same developer "YONGMING ZHANG" of the Adware Doctor app managed to trick the Apple reviewer and his app was able to request the administrator password of the OS X system where was installed.
This was a high security risk because if you allow to an application full rights, it can take over your system.
I made a demonstration video and after 1 month and hundreds of emails and phone calls with Apple I finally managed to take it down and the developer made an update removing the password request.

 

1337watchdog

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 24, 2016
17
8
Update: Yesterday the developer of BitMedic (PocketBits LLC) had released an update.
Today he has 12 reviews of 4 and 5 stars.

Antivirus from Solaz Dazen doing same way.

Screenshots:

 
Last edited:

1337watchdog

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 24, 2016
17
8
IMHO apple must quit selling this kind of apps
I watched how the overall (total) app version reviews are growing and when a new user is reviewing your app, the total will grow by 1.
At BitMedic nothing happens meaning that same users are reviewing his apps.... strange.
Yea hope Apple will remove this from sale. It's a shame....
 

MarsViolet

macrumors 6502
Mar 6, 2003
415
361
I find it disappointing that Apple has become a peddler of wristwatches, disposable consumer electronics appliances, and junk software.

The only reason I ever open the App Store app anymore is to install system updates, and even then I hesitate because half the time I do that it turns out that Apple has removed features and made things uglier and less functional.
 
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1337watchdog

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 24, 2016
17
8
I find it disappointing that Apple has become a peddler of wristwatches, disposable consumer electronics appliances, and junk software.

The only reason I ever open the App Store app anymore is to install system updates, and even then I hesitate because half the time I do that it turns out that Apple has removed features and made things uglier and less functional.
You are perfectly right. Apple is looking more and more about making money rather than providing genuine products and software via the AppStore.
 

Evren Carven

macrumors regular
Dec 16, 2014
238
21
I cannot find there is any different about Adware Doctor and Adware Removal except the interface of the apps.
 

1337watchdog

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 24, 2016
17
8
I cannot find there is any different about Adware Doctor and Adware Removal except the interface of the apps.
Adware Doctor, Adware Removal, Adware Remover, Adware Cleaner and so on are basically same thing browser history and cache cleaners.
In my opinion you can not call a browser cache cleaner, adware remover or adware cleaner since there is nothing to do with adware.
 

superscape

macrumors 6502a
Feb 12, 2008
930
218
East Riding of Yorkshire, UK
Why do you even need the Appstore for Macs?
You don't *need* it. You're entirely free to download and install any app from any source you like.

The app store has pros and cons.

If you're not a particularly savvy user then if you only get your software from the app store then you should be reasonably well protected from installing anything nasty on your Mac. Doesn't mean it will be any good, of course! It also means a lot of content is available in one place so less hassle googling around. It also manages updates etc for you. And plenty more stuff...

On the down side, there's a lot of rubbish to sift through. Developers can't offer demo or trial versions. Some entirely valid functionality isn't allowed in apps on the app store, so some apps may be missing features you'd expect. And plenty more stuff...

So, in summary, you don't need it but it does have some uses.
 
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nnoble

macrumors 6502
Jun 19, 2011
418
470
Thanks for doing the research and writing this report. I've harboured suspicions over the years, probably others have too, but never done anything positive about it.
 

1337watchdog

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 24, 2016
17
8
Thanks for doing the research and writing this report. I've harboured suspicions over the years, probably others have too, but never done anything positive about it.
Thanks :) The problem is that I wish that Apple will take action and do something.
 

1337watchdog

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 24, 2016
17
8
I think the idea behind the App Store was to make it easy to purchase and install quality apps without risk, but it's not serving that purpose much of the time anymore.
Yes and this happened mostly because of the review team of engineers who are not reviewing the apps properly.
Fact example the Adware Doctor which was request the administrator password in order to run.
Just think if this app had a backdoor installed and a hacker could easy install through it a banking trojan or any other nasty stuff.
Who will be responsible than?
It's a shame......
 

robgendreau

macrumors 68040
Jul 13, 2008
3,349
260
Apple gets their cut; why would they boot out crapware? Reverse engineer somebody else's stuff, or slap a GUI on existing open source tools and you're in biz...and Apple happily accommodates you.

Gotta make up for the falling hardware sales somehow; this is one growing area for them, and it's really only growing due to the proliferation of crapware that is just the same old stuff repackaged endlessly. If not protection or cleaner stuff, it's video converters, etc.

Buy stuff direct from developers who sell outside of the MAS. Cut out Apple's 30% tariff and perhaps they'll notice.
 

MarsViolet

macrumors 6502
Mar 6, 2003
415
361
It's funny I'm caught up in this thread with you, cause I frequently run into you on DPReview where I go by my real name rather than this decades old "MarsViolet" handle of mine.

Yeah, I always buy off-store now, and anyway, one kind of has to since the good vendors all pulled out a long time ago due to Apple's dumb rules.

Apple needs to shape up. They're not invincible. They're not even a strong company. They have one break-out product, and without that their huge profits are gone.
 

1337watchdog

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 24, 2016
17
8
It's funny I'm caught up in this thread with you, cause I frequently run into you on DPReview where I go by my real name rather than this decades old "MarsViolet" handle of mine.

Yeah, I always buy off-store now, and anyway, one kind of has to since the good vendors all pulled out a long time ago due to Apple's dumb rules.

Apple needs to shape up. They're not invincible. They're not even a strong company. They have one break-out product, and without that their huge profits are gone.
Yea tell that to the users who are simply opening AppStore and click buy buy buy buy without knowing even what they buy.
Tell that to the thousands of Apple customers who sleep in front of Apple stores on new product releases.....
 

viperacr99

macrumors newbie
Jan 18, 2016
6
3
KC
You should write a 1-star review on the app with some comments explaining. I don't even download free apps without looking at the list of "Most Critical" reviews and seeing what's up. I didn't read all the details of your posts because there is a lot there but I'm guessing all these apps are technically meeting all the requirements to be in the store so the reviewers have to allow them. Then Apple is trying to rely on poor ratings to filter the list for them.

There's good and bad to the app store. Don't let some bad players ruin it for you and everybody else. Leave honest reviews for apps you get, and don't be too harsh on star rating for legit apps with only minor or cosmetic problems. If I can buy an app on the app store versus buying separately from the developer, I tend to lean toward the store for security reasons.
 
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