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84 apps on App Store scamming users of over $100 million annually: Report

Here are 84 'fleeceware' apps that continue to scam customers more than a year after their discovery.

By: Tech Desk | Thalassery |
Updated: July 18, 2022 6:33:44 pm
Apple holds tight control over what applications are published on the App Store. (Illustrative image) (Image credit: Pixabay)

In March 2021, Avast shared a list of 133 fraudulent apps with an estimated total of 500 million downloads. More than a year later, 84 of these fraudulent apps are still available on the App Store, tricking users out of more than $100 million annually, according to a report by VPNCheck, a VPN review platform. The report raises serious questions about Apple’s security measures and vetting methods for apps on the platforms. That’s because Apple iOS users can only download applications from the App Store.

There’s no sideloading of apps allowed, which is possible on Android. Apple exerts tight control over which apps are allowed to be published via the store and also charges a 30 per cent commission, which remains a controversial decision and is being contested by companies such as Epic Games.

VPNCheck went through the list shared by Avast and cross-checked the details for each app individually in Sensor Tower. It found that in June 2022, the active “fleeceware” applications had 7.2 million unique downloads that brought in combined net revenue of $8.6 million in a month. Making an annual estimation based on figures for June, it calculated that these apps are running a $103.2 million scam on the AppStore.

Fleeceware refers to mobile applications that come with hidden, excessive subscription fees. These applications typically take advantage of users who don’t know how to cancel subscriptions.

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Most of the scam apps on the list are entertainment apps like virtual musical instruments or utilities like flashlights and calculators. These kinds of apps can also pop up in your searches if you are looking for apps related to fortune-telling, photo or video editors, quiz-based games, tuners, volume boosters, scanners, etc. While these are some of the most common themes documented, there could be scam app makers plying their trade to other domains.

One way to easily spot such scams is to look at the rating breakdown for these apps. They will usually have a large number of paid-for 5-star reviews from reviewers with fake names. These happen over a specific period and are aimed at hiding the many legitimate low-rating reviews provided by actual users.

The full list of apps shared by VPNCheck is as follows:


aipic – Magic Photo Editor
Astro+ Horoscope & Astrology
Astroline: The Daily Horoscope
Auto Sticker Maker Studio
Avatar Maker Character Creator
Baby Sticker- Track Milestones
Bass Booster Volume Power Amp
Beat maker pro – DJ Drum Pad Music Video Maker
Cartoons Me – Photo Art Editor
Dazz Cam- D3D Photo Effect
Dazzle – Insta stories editor
Dizzi – Photo & Video Effects
DJ it! – Music Mixer Pad
Drink Water ∙ Daily Reminder
Drums: Play Beats & Drum Games
edjing Mix – dj app
edjing Pro – music remix maker
Equalizer Fx: Bass Booster App
Equalizer+ HD music player
Facelab – Face Editor & Beauty
FaceMe-Fun Personality Tests
Facetory: Face Yoga & Exercise
FLMX – Video Editor
Frame – Slideshow Video Maker
Frames – Picture Collage Maker
Girl Games: Unicorn Slime
Guitar – Chords, Tabs & Games
Guitar – real games & lessons
Guitar Play – Games & Songs
Guitar Tuner – Ukulele & Bass
Handset – Second Phone Number
Highlight Story Cover Maker!
Horoscope 2019 and Palm Reader
Hub – Story Templates Maker
Hyper Cleaner: Clean Phone
iCons – Icon Changer App +
Impresso – Insta Story Editor
iWidget Pro : Custom widgets
Jambl: DJ Band & Beat Maker
Jigsaw Puzzle – Brain Games
Karaoke Songs – Voice Singing
Life Palmistry – AI Palm & Tag
Lift: Story Maker
Live Wallpaper Maker: 4K Theme
Loop Maker Pro – Music Maker
Lucky Life – Future Seer
MagicFX – Magic Video Effects
Memoristo: Brain Test, IQ Game
Menu Maker!
Metronome – Tap Tempo & Rhythm
Metronome Pro – Beat & Tempo
Mood Balance: Self Care Tracker
Music Zen – Relaxing Sounds
Nebula: Horoscope & Astrology
Password Manager – Lock Apps
Path – Horoscope & Astrology
PDF Scanner: Document Scan
Photo Collage – Collageable
Photo To Sketch – Drawing book
Photoly Remove Object & Editor
Piano – Lessons & Tiles Games
Piano Crush – Keyboard Games
Pixomatic – Background eraser
Presets for Lightroom – Vidl
RECOLLECT: Color by Number
Ringtones HD ∙ Ringtone Maker
ScanGuru: PDF Document Scanner
Scanner App ∙ Scan & Sign PDF
SlidePic – Slideshow Maker
Slimy: Anxiety Relief Slime 3D
SpeedPro Slow speed video edit
Sticker Maker – BeSticky
Stickerfy: Sticker Maker
Sweet Pics – Baby Photo Edito
TeasEar: ASMR Slime Antistress
ToonApp Cartoon Photo Editor
Translate Camera – Speak On
Translator Guru: Voice & Text
UltraFX – Effect Video Maker
Video Puzzles – Magic Puzzle
VOCHI Video Effects Editor
WeDrum: Drums, Real Drum Games
Widget PLUS+ – Photo & Weather

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First published on: 18-07-2022 at 09:42:44 am

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