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Apple has used its app review process as a bulwark in recent legal assaults on its App Store policy, and put particular emphasis on the security benefits for iOS users when buying apps. However, an investigation has found that almost 2% of the top 1,000 highest grossing apps on a given day were some sort of scam.

app-store-safe-secure.jpg

According to The Washington Post, which conducted the investigation, scam apps have been "hiding in plain sight" in Apple's App Store, including several VPN apps that duped users into paying for software they didn't need, a QR code reader that asked users for a $5 weekly subscription for a feature that's already built into Apple's native Camera app, and some apps that fraudulently appropriated the branding of Amazon and Samsung.

Two thirds of the 18 apps that The Post flagged in its paywalled report have since been removed by Apple from the App Store. However, according to market research firm Appfigures, the scam apps are said to have cost customers an estimated $48 million during the time that they were available, while earning Apple a sizable commission in the process.

The report comes at a time when Apple has increasingly looked to security as one of the reasons it takes up to a 30% cut on all App Store transactions. In the recent Apple vs Epic Games trial, for example, CEO Tim Cook claimed the the company's strict review process prevented the App Store from becoming a "toxic mess." Cook has also suggested that allowing developers to offer their own payment systems in apps would make the App Store no better than a "flea market," and that by curating the App Store, users have "a safe and trusted place" to discover apps.

Only last month, Apple announced that it had blocked $1.5 billion in potentially fraudulent transactions in 2020. In the same press release, the company claimed that it catches most scams within a month of them arriving on the App Store.

In a statement given to The Post, an Apple spokesperson said:
"We hold developers to high standards to keep the App Store a safe and trusted place for customers to download software, and we will always take action against apps that pose a harm to users. Apple leads the industry with practices that put the safety of our customers first, and we'll continue learning, evolving our practices and investing the necessary resources to make sure customers are presented with the very best experience."
The problem of scam iOS apps has dogged Apple's App Store for some years now, but recently there have been concerted efforts by some developers to highlight that the problem remains as big as ever in at least some app categories.

Article Link: Study Finds Up to 2% of Top 1,000 Paid Apps on App Store Were Scams
 
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J___o___h___n

macrumors regular
Aug 29, 2017
143
440
This isn't great and Apple needs to work much harder. You see tons of apps with hundreds (sometimes thousands) of 1-star reviews all saying 'scam' and the apps are not removed.

All that being said - what percent of the top 1,000 paid apps were scams on the other app stores? My perception is they're much higher.
 

nwcs

macrumors 68020
Sep 21, 2009
2,464
4,247
Tennessee
It would be nice if it was possible to have zero scam and spam apps but that’s unrealistic. There’s always room to improve, though. Having one gateway does make it more likely to have bad actors filtered out than many gateways.

I think it would be best for apple to allow some some sanctioned way for third party payment systems. Maybe a 5% commission for those?
 

MauiPa

macrumors 68030
Apr 18, 2018
2,995
4,379
This isn't great and Apple needs to work much harder. You see tons of apps with hundreds (sometimes thousands) of 1-star reviews all saying 'scam' and the apps are not removed.

All that being said - what percent of the top 1,000 paid apps were scams on the other app stores? My perception is they're much higher.
"work much harder"? maybe write tech legislation which allows some teeth. Civil and criminal penalties for scammers. Bonded transactions so customers get their money back. Law enforcement investigation and reporting of scams.

Unfortunately, while I think the curated app stores are better than a free for all, there is less that an app store can do than you would think. they rely on the strength of the contract for App Store participation, simply posting a bad review on an App Store probably does not trigger an investigation, or if it does, it would still take awhile, imagine the curator's liability if they took down apps that were poorly rated simply because of some revenge reviews
 

MacAddict1978

macrumors 65816
Jun 21, 2006
1,460
624
This is a relatively low number of apps bench marked against the total number of paid apps in the app store.
98% of the top 1,000 apps weren't scams.... but this is how you can make statistics work for a headline.... against all paid apps it's probably more like 99.9999999999011 % were not scams.

That's impressive. Google Play sure can't say the same.
 

Mousse

macrumors 68030
Apr 7, 2008
2,733
5,361
Flea Bottom, King's Landing
Or we could report this another way. 98% of the top paid apps were NOT scams.
Or 40 scam apps a day. No matter how you spin it, it looks bad.
The PlayStore has a lot more scam apps, but then people who use the PlayStore live by caveat emptor. We expect at app to be a scam until proven otherwise.
 

slineaudi

macrumors regular
Oct 12, 2009
165
258
Seems like a hit piece when "teaming with scams" is defined as 18 of 1000 apps selling something you don't actually need and Apple has already removed 2/3 of them. I'd still rather have the Apple review process than not on the App Store.
 

oneMadRssn

macrumors 603
Sep 8, 2011
5,769
13,389
Or we could report this another way. 98% of the top paid apps were NOT scams.
That's actually worse optically imo. 2% are scams sounds small. 98% are not scams sound like a revelation that not apps are safe.
 

MauiPa

macrumors 68030
Apr 18, 2018
2,995
4,379
It would be nice if it was possible to have zero scam and spam apps but that’s unrealistic. There’s always room to improve, though. Having one gateway does make it more likely to have bad actors filtered out than many gateways.

I think it would be best for apple to allow some some sanctioned way for third party payment systems. Maybe a 5% commission for those?
You base 5% on what? Let the market decide, bureaucrats in Washington making laws, LOL. While I fully support changes to app stores, there are many difficulties to enabling it. right now you can have an external payment system and pay 0% commission you just can't directly link to the site, not advertise inside the App Store (but plenty of room outside the App Store. You could even have a third party App Store with this party payments giving customers a code or vbucks, and have them download apps from the App Store. I don't think the current law allows this, but you could have a fixed/variable hosting fee, all inclusive fee (as you have now), bonding of transactions with civil and criminal penalties for scammers, and teeth for App Store curators to review the developers background, and take down requests similar to copyright requests. But while I'm dreaming how about a bigger house, regained youth, a mega yacht, and a likable personality?
 

MJaP

macrumors regular
Mar 14, 2015
241
824
I know it would be highly complex if they didn't want to play ball but could Apple be forced to pay back their 30% to the users, seeing as strictly speaking Apple have been profiteering off fraud.
 

oneMadRssn

macrumors 603
Sep 8, 2011
5,769
13,389
This is a relatively low number of apps bench marked against the total number of paid apps in the app store.
98% of the top 1,000 apps weren't scams.... but this is how you can make statistics work for a headline.... against all paid apps it's probably more like 99.9999999999011 % were not scams.

That's impressive. Google Play sure can't say the same.
What makes you think the % of scams is higher in the top 1000 than outside of it? If anything, I would think there would be more scam apps that can't break into the top 1000, not less.
 

briko

macrumors regular
Oct 20, 2015
113
418
98% doesn’t sound so bad at first glance, but the number compounds as you download more apps. I have 36 apps installed on my phone. If you download 36 apps from this list, you only have a 48% change that you haven’t been scammed.
 
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Khedron

Suspended
Sep 27, 2013
2,561
5,752
This is a relatively low number of apps bench marked against the total number of paid apps in the app store.
98% of the top 1,000 apps weren't scams.... but this is how you can make statistics work for a headline.... against all paid apps it's probably more like 99.9999999999011 % were not scams.

That's impressive. Google Play sure can't say the same.

No one cares that the app downloaded by nobody wasn’t a scam. It’s far more serious that scams managed to infiltrate the top paid, and hence most popular, apps list. Apple should be doing a lot better than this for a 30% cut of revenue and a fully walled garden.

Imagine if 2% of the highest paid doctors didn’t even have medical degrees.
 
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cem222

macrumors newbie
Jun 7, 2021
1
1
Worse: Apple will not refund money paid for frauds. A dictionary I bought was not as described--not remotely--and I sent Apple proof of this. They denied all responsibility.
 
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