Developer flags ‘fleeceware’ app making $1m a month off unsuspecting iOS users
The developer's allegations make claims about the advantages of app curation on the App Store made by Apple CEO Tim Cook on the New York Times Sway podcast sound rather hollow.
Fleeceware apps have long plagued both the Google Play Store and Apple's App Store, offering users trials of premium features on apps, only to charge them large amounts of money in a few days. A developer has now discovered yet another application on the App Store, that reportedly makes over $1 million a month.
Keyboard app developer Kosta Eleftheriou tweeted on Wednesday that a VPN app was charging users nearly ten dollars a week, with fake reviews and fraudulent claims that it was ‘recommended by Apple' as reported by AppleInsider.
I don't know what's worse about this app:— Kosta Eleftheriou (@keleftheriou) April 7, 2021
- “Translated” fake reviews
- “Recommended by Apple” popups in Safari
- https://t.co/Kq5lRrKCWc contact email
- Blank website, registered in India
- $9.99/week subscription
- Grossing $1M (!) a month
What is Apple even doing?? pic.twitter.com/5oUBCJ2GNh
According to Eleftheriou, the StringVPN app on the App Store does not have a genuine website, is registered in India, offers a $9.99 “subscription” per week, displays fraudulent reviews on the App Store page, has a contact email address with the domain gmail.ru and violates multiple App Store policies.
Eleftheriou's allegations make claims about the advantages of app curation on the App Store made by Apple CEO Tim Cook on the New York Times Sway podcast sound rather hollow. From all the violations mentioned by the developer, the VPN app should never have made it on to the App Store in the first place.
However, this is hardly the first time that fleeceware apps have made it onto the App Store. Last month, we reported that security firm Avast had found that apps on the Google Play Store and the App Store were tricking users into paying exorbitant sums of money over time, earning a whopping $400 million for the developers of these apps. Hopefully, Apple and Google can address this issue, as many users have a hard time unsubscribing themselves from these apps and lose money in the process.