Online scams, like the recent Apple App Store scam, are everywhere.
Apple App Store scammers used hacked iTunes accounts to steal money and boost rankings. (Photo: Thinkstock)

An app farm infestation is being battled by Apple App Store users. The App Store has been hacked by Apple App scammers who hack iTunes accounts to make purchases of bogus apps. The hack not only steals money from iTunes accounts, it boosts the App Store rankings of the fake apps.

Greedy scammer blows his cover

The App Store scam probably would have gone undetected longer if not for a thieving app farm developer known as Thuat Nguyen. Nguyen got too greedy and 40 of his apps in the books category showed up in the top 50 App Store rankings. Other app developers reported something was wrong, and Apple pulled the Thuat Nguyen apps. Thousands of dollars were stolen by Nguyen and some of the other App Store scammers, who are still active.

App Store rankings compromised

News about the App Store scam broke when thenextweb.com reported that Thuat Nguyen hacked iTunes accounts and purchased a large number of his own apps using those accounts. When other popular titles were displaced in the App Store rankings by Nguyen apps, two iPhone app developers took notice. Many iTunes accounts were hacked to purchase apps. On their accounts, numerous people had spent anywhere between $100 and $1,400. All iTunes users should check their accounts for bad purchases of cheap apps ($1-$3) followed by one at an outrageous price ($90). Thenextweb.com said hackers are also signing users up for a free app called World War that sends their money to scammer accounts.

Discover a way to protect yourself from App store scam

To verify whether you have become a victim of the App Store scam, it’s easy to check the security of your own iTunes account.

Courtesy of PCWorld, here is what you need to do to ensure your security:

Click on your account name on the right hand side of the iTunes menu bar. After entering your password, click on the View Account button. You’ll be taken to the Apple Account Information page where you’re able to view your purchase history. From there, you can make sure that all your app purchases are ones that you’ve made. If you spot an app you didn’t buy among your recent purchases, click the Report a Problem button. To safeguard against a compromised password, you can click on Edit Account Info to change it. Longer passwords containing numbers and special characters are harder for hackers to crack.

App farms continue to scam

The Apple App store scam isn’t over yet. At least two other scammers are using similar practices, says Betanews.com. Charismaist has three apps you should stay completely away from. One Charismaist app is an apparent sonic mosquito repellent that has scammed users out of up to $100, despite the fact that it is marked as free. Storm 8′s App Store scam involves in-game point purchases costing as much as $150. One iTunes user reported up to $1,400 in bogus charges from a Storm 8 game. Both Charismaist and Storm 8 can still be found in the App store.

More information on the app store scam

The Apple App Store scam is used primarily to make bogus purchases that elevate the apps in the iTunes ranking so users will be attracted to the apps based upon on their high sales. Look out for app icons with low-res images that come from the web. The scammers’ websites and support links direct users to non-existent websites or landing pages. The Next Web explained that all the bogus apps are owned by unknown, Asia-based developers. Evidently the scam has been happening over the last four weeks.

Citations:

thenextweb.com

thenextweb.com/apple/2010/07/04/app-store-hacked/comment-page-1/#comment-11929

PC World

pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/200503/apps_disappear_from_app_store_amid_hacking_complaints.html

betanews.com

betanews.com/article/Apple-still-silent-as-more-scams-are-found-on-App-Store/1278363193

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