App Store Scams Have Reportedly Cost Users $48 Million

A new report suggests that a percentage of Apple's top grossing apps are scams

Apple has long exercised a strict and ever-evolving set of regulations when it comes to the App Store, most recently by updating its privacy guidelines. However, a new report from The Washington Post reveals that the store is still playing host to scams despite these efforts.

According to The Post's report, roughly 2% of the top 1,000 grossing apps (i.e. the apps that earn the most money) are cons. It may not sound like a lot, but that means there are about 20 malicious apps popular enough to hit the top 1,000. These scams have apparently cost users an estimated $48 million, with cons that range from fake user reviews to apps that trick you into paying for services your device already uses.

Apple App Store Scams

Apple claims to typically find and remove apps like these within a month or so of release, though it's clear some still fall through the cracks. These claims of following strict guidelines may also give users a false sense of security, resulting in less scrutiny for potential purchases. If users believe the App Store is safe, why should they suspect something that looks official?

Apple App Store Trust and Safety
Image: Apple.


There's a distinct possibility that Apple's tight control over its own platform is a big part of the problem. Stan Miles, an economics professor at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia, Canada, said, “If consumers were to have access to alternative app stores or other methods of distributing software, Apple would be a lot more likely to take this problem more seriously."

It's also worth noting that Apple takes a 15%-30% cut of an app's total earnings, which means of the estimated $48 million these apps have raked in, Apple would have kept between $7 and $14 million.

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