| Cult of Mac

App Store scam pulls in $13 million with the help of fake reviews

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AmpMe App Store scam rakes in $13 million
That's ... a lot of money.
Image: Appfigures

It seems it’s not that difficult to make millions of dollars on the App Store if you’re willing to charge people for a “free” service and you have money to spend on blatantly fake but seemingly effective reviews.

That’s how one developer, which offers an app that claims to make your music louder, has collected a cool $13 million — and somehow been featured by Apple multiple times in various countries — in under four years.

Devs unhappy with App Store promos for scam slime apps costing $676 a year

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App Store scam slime apps
Don't be fooled by these pricey slime simulators.
Photo: App Store

App Store users and developers are unhappy with Apple’s decision to promote a number of scam ASMR apps this week.

Some, which are clearly designed to try to fool unwitting children into handing over their parents’ cash, come with incredibly expensive weekly subscriptions that end up costing as much as AU$676 a year.

App Store scams continue to rake in millions

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TikTok continues to dominate the App Store in 2020.
Lots of apps. More than a few scams.
Photo: Kon Karampelas/Unsplash CC

Apple’s “walled garden” approach to the App Store improves quality control — but it doesn’t filter out all of the spammy, scammy content. According to a report by the Washington Post, scam apps represent close to 2% of the App Store’s top-grossing apps.

While that might not sound like all that much, it’s a sizable amount when you consider that the App Store hosts approximately 1.8 million apps. These scam apps reportedly have cost users in the vicinity of $48 million.

FTC warns about scammers calling people pretending to be Apple

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Apple ditched plans for secure iCloud backups after FBI concern
Scammers could claim your iCloud account has been breached.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The Federal Trade Commission is warning people that scammers are posing as Apple customer support workers in an attempt to defraud them. The agency shared a couple of recorded messages (which you can listen to here) that sound quasi-legitimate but are, in fact, trying to steal personal information.

In one message, the caller says they have detected suspicious activity in the recipient’s iCloud account. They suggest that the account has been breached and, to secure it, the person should speak to an Apple customer service representative. They then give the option to connect to such a person on the phone.

Dodgy apps use Touch ID/Face ID to rip off users

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Touch ID on iPhone
Don’t let an app ask for your identity with Touch ID or Face ID unless you know what it’s doing.
Photo: Apple

A pair of fitness applications were found to be tricking users into authorizing financial transactions. They have been removed from the App Store, but stand as examples of something to watch out for.

If third-party software asks for you to identify yourself with Touch ID or Face ID, carefully consider whether there’s a good reason before doing so.

Ex-New York transit official charged in $60,000 iPhone scam

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France fines Apple $27 million for intention iPhone 'throttling' controversy
Ex-Metropolitan Transportation Authority official sold taxpayer-funded iPhones.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

A former official with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority official has been indicted in an apparent scam in which he purchased almost $60,000 worth of iPhones with taxpayer money — and then sold them for personal gain.

How to automatically troll telemarketers and keep them busy

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Apple's secret AI sauce gets a new ingredient
Apple's secret AI sauce gets a new ingredient
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

There were 3.4 billion robocalls in April this year, and the chances are it feels like you got roughly half of those to your own phone. These calls aren’t just telemarketing anymore, either. Just like email spam, scams pervade these already-annoying automated calls. One way around this is to unplug your landline phone, and to ignore all phone calls to your iPhone (go to Settings > Notifications > Phone and switch off Allow Notifications).

A better way is to troll the robocallers by hooking them up to a service that answers the calls for you, and uses robots to keep the telemarketers on the line, wasting their time an costing them money. And for that, you need the Jolly Roger.

Here’s one good reason not to buy a MacBook on eBay

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Here's something to be worried about when you buy a used MacBook on eBay. Photo: Alex Heath / Cult of Mac
Here's something to be worried about when you buy a used MacBook on eBay. Photo: Alex Heath/Cult of Mac

When it comes to buying Apple products, you should make sure a deal isn’t too good to be true when you sign up for it.

A U.K. man who purchased a MacBook on eBay for a bargain price was surprised by what arrived in the mail — not a laptop but a black-and-white photograph of a MacBook.