Warning: Beware barrage of counterfeit branded shopping apps in Apple’s App Store

“Hundreds of fake retail and product apps have popped up in Apple’s App Store in recent weeks — just in time to deceive holiday shoppers,” Vindu Goel reports for The New York Times. “The counterfeiters have masqueraded as retail chains like Dollar Tree and Foot Locker, big department stores like Dillard’s and Nordstrom, online product bazaars like Zappos.com and Polyvore, and luxury-goods makers like Jimmy Choo, Christian Dior and Salvatore Ferragamo.”

“‘We’re seeing a barrage of fake apps,’ said Chris Mason, chief executive of Branding Brand, a Pittsburgh company that helps retailers build and maintain apps,” Goel reports. “He said his company constantly tracks new shopping apps, and this was the first time it had seen so many counterfeit iPhone apps emerge in a short period of time.”

“Some of them appeared to be relatively harmless — essentially junk apps that served up annoying pop-up ads, he said,” Goel reports. “But there are serious risks to using a fake app. Entering credit card information opens a customer to potential financial fraud. Some fake apps contain malware that can steal personal information or even lock the phone until the user pays a ransom. And some fakes encourage users to log in using their Facebook credentials, potentially exposing sensitive personal information.”

“The rogue apps, most of which came from developers in China, slipped through Apple’s process for reviewing every app before it is published,” Goel reports. “Apple removed hundreds of fake apps on Thursday night after The New York Times inquired about the specific app vendors that created many of them. Other apps were removed after a New York Post article last week drew attention to some of the counterfeits.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple has more work to do to clean up the mess and obviously needs to do a much better job vetting apps prior to inclusion in the App Store.

What’s the sense of having a walled garden if you allow the planting of weeds?


  1. …slipped through Apple’s process for reviewing every app before it is published

    Here I am out on the net chastising Google for allowing a constant flow of malware into their Google Play Store for Android victims… And Apple is just as FAIL at vetting Mac apps for the Mac App Store.

    SHAME ON YOU APPLE! This is disgusting. 😛

    1. Here’s the link to an earlier October 30th article from the New York Post:

      Fake shopping apps are invading the iPhone

      It didn’t help that earlier this month, Apple introduced search ads in its App Store. The fake apps are buying search terms, it would appear, to increase their exposure to consumers.

      The crooks are looking to tap into the fast-growing market for mobile sales, which last year leaped 56 percent to $49.2 billion, according to comScore.

  2. WTF, I have to argue with reviewers that my app contains images that might potentially look like characters that are copyrighted, and here someone spams the app store with hundreds of blatently fraudulent ripoffs. I should submit to Apple China for review. Their consistency of standards is non-existent.

  3. Apple is truly becoming sad. I went to the Apple store on the weekend to test the new MacBook Pro for speed. I did a simple boot test, the previous Gen MacBook Pro 13″ at $1,500 Canadian vs the new low end MacBook Pro 13″ with function keys $1899. Boot time on the old MacBook Pro 18.5 seconds, the new one was 24 Seconds. Now fake apps. I also watch the Mac fanboy POD Cast MacBreak weekly and all the panelists were pretty negative about the new MacBook Pros. I have never seen a time like this in the history of the Mac not even in the dark years when Steve was at Next. I had to tell my daughter I could not bring myself to spend that kind of money plus the price of dongles for this under powered computer not even form Apple. This makes me very sad.

    1. lol.. i was also trying to show my daughter how cool Apple was.. she likes to draw MLP ponies so I put her digital art (which she made herself by hand).. into a flappy bird type game.. to show her how easy and cool it was to make an iOS app.. ended getting into massive arguments with Apple and just ended up being a frustrating and draining process.. ended up having to remove her art which was the whole reason for making the stupid app in the first place.

  4. Time for Apple to require vetted certification on all commerce or banking related apps. imilar to how Twitter authenticates its celeb accounts. For example if an app is defined & operates within a certain parameter (say commerce, stores, banking, finance etc) require that the certified authentication must be maintained or the app is either rejected or withdrawn from the appstore until which time it can be authenticated.

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