Lifehacker’s Complete Guide for iOSLifehacker’s Complete Guide for iOSApple’s iPhone is easy to learn but difficult to master. Instead of spending hours sifting through the settings yourself, check out our huge collection of guides, tips, and tricks for everything iOS-related.

We regularly Go to shady apps found in the Google Play Store, But Apple’s App Store also has a fair share of threats. The platform is full of iOS apps that trick unsuspecting users into costly – and in some cases not mentioned – in-app transactions. These apps hide their scams in otherwise legitimate functions to bypass Apple’s verification process and then increase their user ratings with fake reviews and downloads.

Predator apps are not a new phenomenon. In 2019 An infamous iOS heart rate monitor app has reappeared on the App Store Just eight months after it was banned from scamming users with their hard-earned cash. The app claimed to use the fingerprint Touch ID scanner of some iOS devices to track the user’s heart rate. However, users inadvertently used their fingerprints to silently approve a $ 89 transaction.

At the time of the return of the app Apps Exposed reported More than 500 other iOS apps used similar tactics to scam users. Many of these apps have since been removed, but new ones appear in the App Store every day.

Unsurprisingly, many are based on adult content – especially peer-to-peer video chatting, free porn, and casual sex. However, many Con apps are not based on adult content. Many other categories – photo / video filters, quizzes and games, health and wellness, and backgrounds or UI topics – are also common targets.

G / O Media can receive a commission

A more recent example, like from Kosta Eleftheriou on Twitteris Star Gazer +. At the time of Eleftherious Tweets, the app had over 80,000 reviews averaging 4.6 stars (at the time of this writing, it now has a 4.4 star rating based on over 1,100 reviews). At first glance, this seems like a legitimate app. However, read through the reviews and you will find an entirely different story. The majority are 1 star, and almost all of them generate tremendous, unexpected in-app purchases. Many users found that they were signed up for an expensive subscription just to tap the refresh button.

Despite the negative reviews and user complaints, Star Gazer + continues to be available on the App Store with a cheap average rating and lots of obviously fake 5-star reviews – as well as hundreds of other scam apps. Some of these apps have managed to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in total revenue from users over the past year.

It’s surprising that so many Con apps bypass the App Store’s strict guidelines, but their prevalence suggests that Apple is unable or unwilling to deal with them properly. Sure, maybe these app developers aren’t breaking a law or infecting users with malware, but they are still acting maliciously. And until Apple takes this problem seriously, it is up to the user to keep these products away from their devices.

Here are some tips to help protect yourself from App Store fraud:

  • Read users’ reviews carefully before downloading them. Yes, even if the averages are high and there are tons of them. If you look carefully and comb through the reviews, you will find some who call these apps scams.
  • Check external sources. Refer to unfamiliar apps on user forums, Reddit, and blogs like Apps Exposed before downloading them.
  • Know the limitations of your device. If an app flaunts features or services that seem too good to be true, it’s likely a fake. Don’t download or buy anything it sells.
  • Watch out for hidden subscriptions. While many free apps offer extra paid premium features and in-app purchases, you don’t subscribe to any app to use features or access content that is freely available elsewhere.
  • Call Out Scam When You Find One. Shady developers keep uploading new scam apps, and it’s impossible to catch them all before someone is scammed. If an app bumps you unexpectedly, report suspicious activity from Apple and leave a review warning others that the app is a scam.

Conclusion: An unknown app should always be approached with caution. When in doubt, don’t put them on your device – and keep your finger (or Face ID) away from typical in-app purchase approval methods, too.

Brendan updated this piece on February 11th, 2021 with new information on the latest iOS scams. We also changed the header image.