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The Darkish Aspect of the Mac App Retailer: How Rip-off Apps and Shady Builders Are Preying on Customers | by Privacy1St | Apr, 2023

The Darkish Aspect of the Mac App Retailer: How Rip-off Apps and Shady Builders Are Preying on Customers | by Privacy1St | Apr, 2023

2023-04-23 11:40:56

Within the final 30 days, I’ve been intently monitoring the Mac App Retailer and have made a disturbing discovery. Within the midst of the OpenAI frenzy, a number of apps have surfaced which can be copying the long-lasting OpenAI brand and shade scheme as a way to mislead unsuspecting MacOS App Retailer customers. However that’s not all — I additionally discovered that some builders are abusing Apple’s Developer Agreements by spamming a number of accounts and flooding the shop with almost an identical functions. This creates a “cartel” fashion setting and unfair competitors for different builders. Some shady builders that I’ll current on this article are additionally resorting to abusive ways reminiscent of requesting a evaluate from customers simply after one minute of utilizing the appliance, solely for the aim of manipulating their rating on the App Retailer. On this article, I’ll dive deeper into the problem of rip-off apps and shady builders which can be plaguing the MacOS App Retailer.

The above screenshots belong to 2 totally different developer accounts: Pixelsbay and Parallelword — each accounts are owned by the identical folks as I’ll element extra later on this article
For these two functions, the builders had merely copied the OpenAI icon with none adjustments deceptive the MacOS Apple Appstore customers

Regardless of being scams, these functions are producing important income for his or her builders. By exploiting the recognition of AI-powered chatbots and language fashions, these scammers are raking in 1000’s of {dollars} from unsuspecting customers who’re prepared to pay for what they imagine to be a respectable product. In truth, many of those rip-off apps are among the many prime downloaded functions on the MacOS App Retailer, because of their intelligent use of key phrases and deceptive advertising and marketing ways. (as will be seen within the screenshots under)

It is a clear indication of how simply customers will be duped into paying for a product that doesn’t ship on its guarantees. It’s excessive time for Apple to take a stricter stance in opposition to these scams and shield its customers from falling sufferer to such misleading practices.
A few of them have been authorized by the Apple App evaluate crew simply 3 days in the past and 1 day in the past with a 1/1 copy of the OpenAI icon and colours

Purposes hyperlinks and identifiers:

Developer: ParallelWorld
TeamID: YTKT98H4MN
Identifier=com.pw.chatbotmac
Hyperlink: https://apps.apple.com/de/app/chat-bot-powered-by-gpt-4/id6446375901?mt=12

Developer: Pixelsbay
TeamID: HAVH7B94H6
Identifier=com.pb.chatgptmac
Hyperlink: https://apps.apple.com/de/app/chat-bot-ai-writing-assistant/id1665638231?mt=12

Developer: Abid Ali
TeamID: 6PT83D8KD3
Identifier=com.intelliapps.ai.chat.bot.macapp
Hyperlink: https://apps.apple.com/de/app/ai-chat-bot-writing-assistant/id6445991020

Developer: Ali Raza
TeamID: J3HZ2NWUYS
Identifier=com.chat.gpt.by.open.ai
Hyperlink: https://apps.apple.com/de/app/chatbot-ai-powered-by-gpt-4/id6447077370?mt=12

2. Each functions share 99% of the identical code with slight modifications

3. The scammy builders didn’t even trouble to make a unique paywall fashion for each apps. Each apps share the identical paywall with slight variations and there’s no shut button. This habits of not offering an in depth button on the paywalls is very unethical and will be thought of a rip-off. It places the customers in a irritating state of affairs the place they’re compelled to both subscribe or forcibly stop the appliance to regain management of their gadget.

The paywall of each apps can’t be closed

Additional investigation into among the rip-off functions being developed by ParallelWorld and Pixelsbay reveals that these builders are seemingly the house owners of an organization known as Katco based mostly in Pakistan, owned by a person named Hm Ali. This implies that these scams could also be half of a bigger operation aimed toward exploiting the recognition of AI-powered chatbots and language fashions and different standard functions from the MacOS App Retailer. It’s alarming to assume that such refined and well-coordinated scams will be perpetuated on the MacOS App Retailer with little to no oversight.

I came upon about Katco clue whereas investigating an software known as Switchy, listed within the MacOS App Retailer underneath the Pixelsbay developer account, and noticed references about Katco and an individual hmali (as is indicated within the username of the MacOS system)

Digging extra into Katco I used to be not stunned to seek out out that the Katco firm is sharing the identical tackle as ParallelWorld and Pixelsbay.

4. Within the functions: Chat Bot: Powered by GPT-4 and Chat Bot- AI Writing Assistant, Folder: Contents/Sources there are two information known as LICENSE and README.md which can be making reference to: hm ali <hmali.katco[@]gmail.com>

5. Transferring ahead within the Katco method I discovered that this particular person known as HM Ali is the supervisor of the Katco firm and the one who’s instrumenting the entire rip-off operation.

The information above was supplied with the assistance of the Knowledge Lead web site (https://data-lead.com/person/name/Hm+Ali/id/306730008/v/723fa)

Primarily based on the proof gathered from the investigation, it’s turning into more and more clear that the builders behind ParallelWorld and Pixelsbay are seemingly the identical folks, and that the scams are being orchestrated by the proprietor of the Katco firm, Hm Ali. These findings underscore the necessity for stricter rules and monitoring of the MacOS App Retailer to forestall such scams from proliferating and inflicting hurt to customers and bonafide builders alike. It’s essential for Apple to take swift and decisive motion in opposition to such unscrupulous practices and to safeguard the integrity of its platform.

By wanting into what number of opinions this software gathered within the final 24 hours (because of the good evaluation platform of Appfigures — www.appfigures.com) I went additional into the investigation.

Greater than 175 opinions have been acquired within the final 24 hours Worldwide with 63 complete opinions acquired within the US Retailer. These opinions have been doable by utilizing a easy abusive approach: request the consumer to evaluate your app instantly after the subscription to the appliance and each time the consumer asks a query to the OpenAI with out permitting the consumer to check your software extra time. As is regular, a suggestions/evaluate system is beneficial when the developer is asking a consumer to evaluate his software after a while of utilization, as a way to get a very good image of his software and enhance it. However this isn’t our case, the evaluate system was used merely simply to trick customers to evaluate the appliance, getting the opinions, and rating quick within the MacOS Appstore.

This sort of approach is strictly prohibited in response to Apple Appreview Pointers and SKStoreReview Documentation (https://developer.apple.com/documentation/storekit/requesting_app_store_reviews):

“You may decide when and the place your app shows the immediate to request a evaluate. Take into consideration one of the best locations inside your app to indicate a request for evaluate, and what situations are acceptable to delay it. Listed here are some finest practices:

  • Attempt to make the request at a time that doesn’t interrupt what the consumer is making an attempt to attain in your app. For instance, on the finish of a sequence of occasions that the consumer efficiently completes.
  • Keep away from displaying a request for a evaluate instantly when a consumer launches your app, even when it isn’t the primary time that it launches.
  • Keep away from requesting a evaluate as the results of a consumer motion.”

This was finished utilizing a sample that concerned creating free Google web sites and utilizing the identical sample in his Gmail e-mail tackle, which made it straightforward to determine the associated accounts(see under). The sheer variety of duplicate apps that this developer was releasing on the App Retailer was inflicting important muddle and confusion for customers, making it troublesome for them to determine respectable apps.

This habits is a transparent violation of the App Retailer’s pointers, which require builders to submit unique and helpful apps that present a high-quality consumer expertise. The invention of this developer highlights the necessity for higher vigilance in monitoring the App Retailer to forestall such spamming actions and preserve a excessive normal of high quality for apps obtainable to customers.

App: https://apps.apple.com/de/app/sync-docs-for-google-drive/id1666471611?mt=12
Net: https://sites.google.com/view/kendra-gfile/support
Assist e-mail: Letremarkab43020@gmail.com

App: https://apps.apple.com/de/app/pdf-reader-for-adobe-pdf/id1661919289?mt=12
Net: https://sites.google.com/view/zq-pdf-editor/home
Assist e-mail: alexanderbiographerdz69212@gmail.com

See Also

App: https://apps.apple.com/de/app/expert-pdf-editor-for-adobe/id6443838622?mt=12
Net: https://sites.google.com/view/ll-pdf-editor/support
Assist e-mail: Janiett074590@gmail.com

App: https://apps.apple.com/de/app/docs-writer-doc-processor/id6444884789?mt=12
Net: https://sites.google.com/view/wordeditor/home
Assist e-mail: in a single day.Cleveland34567439@gmail.com

App: https://apps.apple.com/de/app/pdf-reader-sign-for-adobe-pdf/id6443495616?mt=12
Net: https://sites.google.com/view/readpdfs/home
Assist e-mail: zwPatel205144@gmail.com

App: https://apps.apple.com/de/app/switcher-browser-open-link/id1671743556?mt=12
Net: https://sites.google.com/view/switch-browser/support
Assist e-mail: tania375189628@gmail.com

App: https://apps.apple.com/de/app/screen-recorder-record-it/id1661261167?mt=12
Net: https://sites.google.com/view/screenrecoding/support
Assist e-mail: debtol.14.64@gmail.com

App: https://apps.apple.com/de/app/share-docs-for-google-drive/id6443440733?mt=12
Net: https://www.grasshoppertechs.com
Assist e-mail: beforehand.Morgan55122822@gmail.com

App: https://apps.apple.com/de/app/share-docs-for-dropbox/id1643106264?mt=12
Net: https://www.grasshoppertechs.com
Assist e-mail: beforehand.Morgan55122822@gmail.com

In conclusion, the article highlights a transparent violation of the Apple Developer Settlement by people who have been discovered to be spamming a number of developer accounts on the MacOS App Retailer.

The people in query have been discovered to be creating quite a few duplicate apps, and developer accounts and utilizing shady strategies to mislead customers and abuse the ranking system as a way to rank greater than respectable builders.

Such habits creates an unfair and aggressive setting for respectable builders who comply with the App Retailer pointers, and it goes in opposition to the rules of truthful competitors that Apple strives to uphold.

By abusing the system, the people have been creating confusion and muddle on the App Retailer, making it troublesome for customers to determine respectable apps and eroding the belief that customers have within the platform.

It’s essential that such violations are detected and addressed in a well timed method to make sure the integrity of the platform and the consumer expertise. Apple has a accountability to keep up a excessive normal of high quality for apps on its platform and to make sure a degree taking part in area for all builders.

Bought any questions on this topic drop me a message at my Twitter account @privacyis1st



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