Scam Alert: Apple shuts down fake shopping apps


With the holiday shopping season almost upon us, it's not a surprise that shopping frauds get more and more frequent. One type of fraud is setting up a fake shopping app. Most of these illegitimate pieces of software are practically harmless – maybe they serve an ad or two, until you realize that's not the app you need, and that's that. Others, however, might ask for your credit card info or other personal information, which you shouldn't disclose.

And it appears that despite Apple claiming it has a very serious review process, such apps manage to make their way to the iOS App Store. After an investigation by the New York Times, Apple went through hundreds such apps and shut them down immediately. However, copies of them continue to pop up, seemingly out of nowhere.

As it turns out, this happens all the time. Developers change the content of apps after they were reviewed and approved by Apple or find other means to get through the review process with a fraudulent app. Some time after that Apple employees catch on to the scam and shut the app down, just for it to reappear the very next day. “It's a game of Whac-a-mole,” said Chris Mason, whose company helps retailers build and maintain legit apps.

In the meantime, Apple addresses the problem the only way it can. By removing the fraudulent apps and comforting their customers that they're as safe from scams as they can be on the Internet. Tom Neumayr, an Apple spokesman, said for the Times:

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In the meantime, we prompt our readers to look out for such apps. You can recognize them quite easily by looking for bad English in their description, number of reviews and previous versions released. If you're still not sure if an app is legit, better order the product somewhere else, be it the retailer's official website or a trusted online store.

source: New York Times via MacWorld

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