July 27, 2021

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Porn App Network Scamming iPhone Users For $2.6M Per Month, Says Apps Exposed

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A porn app network allegedly created by failed Turkish social media startup Scorp is scamming iPhone owners and generating an estimated $2.6 million in monthly revenue, according to Apps Exposed.

“In total they are generating $2,626,000 (estimated data for Dec 2020) a month by breaking the App Store Guidelines and scamming their users with prerecorded videos, fake push notifications, bait and switch prices and hired girls to do naked cam shows to keep the user as much as possible inside the app,” the organization says.

Apps that are part of the network allegedly include:

  • Who – Call & Chat
  • Who Lite – Live Video Chat
  • Lovebird – Quality Dating
  • You – Random Live Video Chat
  • You Lite – Live Video Chat App
  • Fish – Random Stories & Chats
  • AvoChat – Online Video Chat
  • Jam – Random Video Chat
  • Selfie Chat – Random Chat
  • SFS – Make new friends & Chat

According to Apps Exposed, people who download these apps in search of conversation or video dating get fabricated push notifications allegedly from people who want to connect with them. Once you start chatting, which Apps Exposed says is with recorded video at first, the apps ask you for more coins to fund longer conversations. Or they request “gifts” to give the alleged people, which are of course funded by spending money in the app.

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“They also are really good at pushing fake push notifications to lure the users in to buy more subscriptions or coins,” Apps Exposed says. “It’s truly amazing that these scammers have two of their apps on U.S. Top Charts and Apple Support is not doing anything about it … every time you open one of their apps someone instantly calls you. It’s not a real person but a bot and if you try to accept the call it shows you you need more matches.”

I tried one of the apps. I did not see nudity, but it was clear from one of the conversations that at least some of the people I was connecting with were in a common setting in a group. All were minimally dressed, and the app continually notified me to spend coins of in-app currency to have longer conversations. I did see multiple notes from the app itself telling users that nudity is not allowed. The question is whether that is window dressing for App Store reviewers or actual app policy.

App reviewers on the App Store say that “girls keep asking you to call private and start showing nude” and it is “full of fake accounts.” There are also multiple accusations of fraud and scammy behavior in the reviews, while most of the five-star reviews consist of a single word like “good” or even a nonsense construction like “hbjh” or “bjek.” (Yes, literally.)

Sneaky apps that scam users are nothing new on the iOS App Store.

Sometimes they are utility apps with outrageous pricing: prices that add up to almost $5,000/year are not unknown.

Apple tries to vet apps that enter the App Store, but unscrupulous developers sometimes use obfuscated code that can change functionality after their apps pass App Store review. Most get caught after some months of scamming users, but others seem to survive for years.

I have contacted the makers of Who App, Media Social LLC, for a comment, and will update if they response. I’ve also contacted Apple PR, and will update if they respond.

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