Fake app approved by Apple’s App Store stole man’s life savings in bitcoin

Apple bills its App Store as “a place you can trust,” touting that “for over a decade, the App Store has proved to be a safe and trusted place to discover and download apps” where every submission is scanned and reviewed, ensuring each is safe, secure, useful and unique. One man trusted Apple’s marketing so much that it led to him losing nearly all of his life savings in an instant.

Apple App Store
Apple’s App Store

Reed Albergotti reports for The Washington Post:

Phillipe Christodoulou wanted to check his bitcoin balance last month, so he searched the App Store on his iPhone for “Trezor,” the maker of a small hardware device he uses to store his cryptocurrency. Up popped the company’s padlock logo set against a bright green background. The app was rated close to five stars. He downloaded it and typed in his credentials.

In less than a second, nearly all of his life savings — 17.1 bitcoin worth $600,000 at the time — was gone. The app was a fake, designed to trick people into thinking it was a legitimate app.

But Christodoulou is angrier at Apple than at the thieves themselves: He says Apple marketed the App Store as a safe and trusted place, where each app is reviewed before it is allowed in the store. Christodoulou, once a loyal Apple customer, said he no longer admires the company. “They betrayed the trust that I had in them,” he said in an interview. “Apple doesn’t deserve to get away with this.”

“Apple frequently pushes myths about user privacy and security as a shield against its anti-competitive App Store practices,” said Meghan DiMuzio, executive director of the Coalition for App Fairness, which was formed to fight Apple’s power over its App Store. “The truth is, Apple’s security ‘standards’ are inconsistently applied across apps and only enforced when it benefits Apple.”

…In fact, it’s easy for scammers to circumvent Apple’s rules, according to experts. Criminal app developers can break Apple’s rules by submitting seemingly innocuous apps for approval and then transforming them into phishing apps that trick people into giving up their information, according to Apple. When Apple finds out, it removes the apps and bans the developers, the company says. But it’s too late for the people who fell for the scam. Crypto scams are also common on Google’s Android and on the Web.

MacDailyNews Take: Their shoddy legislation attempts aren’t getting passed (or even getting a vote), so those who want a free ride in Apple’s App Store are using scattered examples of criminals who defrauded Apple in order to scam users as a cudgel via an amenable and/or ignorant media.

And, yet, these freeloader wannabes fail to explain how destroying Apple’s App Store by forcing Apple to carry for-profit apps for free, despite the cost to Apple, would protect users from scammers. Because destroying Apple’s App Store wouldn’t stop scammers, as the article above admits they’re already common in Google’s Android store and on the Web.

The bottom line: Epic Games et al. want to enjoy all of the benefits of Apple’s App Store, including access to well over one billion of the world’s most affluent users for free and they’ll dupe any brainless politician or reporter to further their doomed quest.

Now, we’ll leave it to the lawyers regarding whether Christodoulou might have a viable case against Apple for false advertising while hoping that the FBI, with which Christodoulou has reportedly filed a report, can catch the scammers and recoup the stolen bitcoin.

22 Comments

  1. This sounds more like an endorsement of Apple’s model. We trust apps to do things this sensitive because Apple is vetting and approving, and holding the reigns on developers in the App Store.

    This is an endorsement of more not less Apple control.

  2. So Apple bears no responsibility when they take away personal responsibility?

    Apple has imposed itself as the IT department over its devices. It brags, markets, and profits from the aura of perceived safety. There is no other source for iOS Apps, so it’s ALL on them. Pay the man!

  3. MDN’s response is a HUGE RED HERRING turning an issue about perceived security in light of Apple’s marketing of the App store as safe into one about so-called free-loading.

    Don’t get distracted.

    1. I hope every idiot who gets involved in this paper currency crap loses every dime they have. All currency must be made out of 99.999 Gold or Silver. No exceptions.

      /s

        1. His demand implies that stupid, irresponsible whateverGen keeps voting themselves for free stuff and then telling a group of folks who buy fancy paper to print some dead patriot’s image on it and call it valuable to pay for woke USA’s lazy-ass spendthrift destruction. What don’t you understand about that? And when the merry-go-round stops and you present your worthless comic book paper to a person to cover food, housing, medical treatment or nuclear missile to protect you, they look at you in the eye and say ‘get the hell out of here with your monopoly money’. Shadowself’s wish may not be that practical, be he NAILED IT in the bigger sense. That you would not know this already is the real scary part. But a very large part of the current generation is uneducated and don’t know so many basic things about how our country works, how money works, how work works, how life really works. It won’t be fixed in a pretty way. It is going to be fixed after much suffering and violence, unfortunately, like all others have in human history.

  4. I remind my kids, try not to pass judgement until you’ve heard both sides of the story. I think this might be one of those times its good advice for those commenting on this board.

  5. Hey Phil – when you point one finger at Apple, your other fingers are pointing back at you – suck it up buttercup and accept accountability for YOUR mistake, this is so typical of society we now live in, blame everyone else for your mistakes, serves you right for playing the high stakes crypto game.

  6. Of course Apple cannot guarantee 100% apps are safe. In fact even if they do random check on apps thats a great deal of work on lakhs of apps. as the report says they can update apps after approval also… so no case here.. bitcoin itself shoddy deal. banks have many restrictions to safeguard from this kind of frauds… better make banks competitive than bypass and get duped like this…

  7. This sort of thing is a good example of why Apple might want to ban Cryptocurrency apps again. It is one thing to stop random hackers from stealing your credit card, but trying to police criminals who have half a million dollars at their disposal might be beyond Apple’s capabilities.

  8. Even though Epic et al. wants lower costs also, that’s not all they want and that’s not what they’ll get if they win. What they demand in court is 3rd party app stores. It may look like they demand that to force apple to lower its share, but that’s not what they get if they win.

    If they win (it increasingly looks like they will, and there are parties – including some governments – that see this as an ideological issue rather than just money so we are past the point where everybody wants settle all cases even if Epic would like to) they’ll get the right to have 3rd party stores, not the right to keep higher share of revenue. No court is going to set a percentage.

    So, there will be 3rd party iOS stores, just like there are 3rd party stores on the Android world. Where practically everybody uses Play Store anyway.

    If Apple is forced to allow 3rd party stores, they will keep +90% of the business even if they would raise their revenue share back to 30%. Also killing low quality apps is a lot easier when you don’t have to be afraid of antirust issues anymore. Apple can enforce higher quality standards and get higher revenue share. Maybe Apple could even add a share on ad revenues for free apps. Why not? Apple can’t do that now because devs would claim that it’s an antirust violation. But with 3rd party stores if devs are not happy, they are free to go to other stores with more favorable rules (maybe less favorable customers though.)

    1. Perhaps Apple should allow iPhones to run either Android or IOS (but not both at the same time) if the user so chose at any time. No one with any brains would do this, but it would shut up those who say “I bought this phone and I want to download anything I want!”. Then ALL the IOS users would be there by choice, and nosy regulators could mind their own business. (Of course, most Apple users already made that choice, but cynical idiots could stop feeling so oppressed)

    1. None of our “devices” are to be trusted. The companies that provide the services our “Devices” utilize are not to be trusted and the government that “Oversees” it all falls in that same category.
      We have been forewarned by a true Humanitarian.

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