These apps have seemingly thousands of 5-star reviews, that on a closer look, are definitely fake. (Picture: Unsplash)
A number of scam apps that don’t let users quit unless they pay have been exposed on Apple’s macOS App Store.
This week, Apple removed an app from the App Store that was almost behaving like ransomware.
While it didn’t encrypt files or behave like a virus, it would not allow users to exit until they purchased a subscription of $9.99/month.
Edoardo Vacci, Principal software engineer at Red Hat, discovered the first of these scam apps — called My Metronome.
The app once downloaded and opened, would not let users quit using either the menu bar or keyboard shortcuts until they agreed to pay a subscription of $9.99 a month.
While Vacci eventually found out that you could ‘Force Quit’ to get out of the app, that’s not something that would occur to the average user.
Following a tweet from ‘professional AppStore critic’ Kosta Eleftheriou, My Metronome was removed from the App Store.
Scam apps lure people into downloading them on their iPhones and iPads with a ‘free trial’. (Picture: Twitter)
Jeff Johnson, another iOS developer, delved into the scam and found that the company behind the scam app My Metronome, Music Paradise, LLC was connected to another app development company called Groove Vibes that has created similar scam apps.
In fact, according to the privacy policies of both companies, they’re registered at the same address in Novosibirsk, Russia.
Eleftheriou is currently engaged in a lawsuit against Apple over App Store scams and anti-competitive practices.
‘This App Store app immediately asks you for money and then *disables* the “Quit” option so that you can never close it! And it’s been like that on the App Store for years!’ said Eleftheriou in a tweet last week.
Eleftheriou has repeatedly found scam apps that lure people into downloading them on their iPhones and iPads with a ‘free trial’.
These apps have seemingly thousands of 5-star reviews, that on a closer look, are definitely fake.
Once downloaded, it’s hard to figure out how to cancel the ‘free trial’ for these apps that eventually end up charging customers huge sums of money for a recurring subscription.
Eleftheriou estimates that the developer has has ‘grossed almost a million dollars on the App Store’ or maybe even $2 million.
The rampant presence of these apps on the App Store raise serious questions about the rigorousness of Apple’s App Review process.
What is ransomware?
It is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a victim’s personal data or computer system until a sum of money is paid.
Unlike ransomware, the scam apps don’t lock users out of their files but instead prevent users from closing them until they sign up for a monthly subscription that’s hard to cancel.