Hoards of fake mobile apps have started appearing in the Apple App Store in advance of the upcoming holiday shopping season, according to a recent New York Times story. Chris Mason, chief executive of Branding Brand, which tracks new shopping apps, told the NYT: “We’re seeing a barrage of fake apps.”
Posing as high-end luxury brands like Christian Dior and Salvatore Ferragamo, department store chains, and stores like Dollar Tree and Foot Locker, counterfeit apps can pose serious danger to consumers — from credit card fraud, to identity theft, to exposure to malware.
One counterfeit app featuring the logo of fashion company Coach, Inc. offered “an extra 20 percent off.” The only problem is Coach doesn’t offer an iPhone app. Kanye West’s Yeezy line was another target of a knock-off app called “Sports Shop: Yeezy Boots” offering discounted products.
Although Apple claims it prohibits any counterfeit apps, it focuses mostly on those with malicious software, placing the burden of policing counterfeits on brand owners. Most of the fakes slipping through the company’s review process are coming from developers in China.
Inquiries from the New York Times and a recent New York Post article appear to have induced Apple to remove hundreds of fake apps last week. An Apple spokesman said:. “We’ve set up ways for customers and developers to flag fraudulent or suspicious apps, which we promptly investigate to ensure the App Store is safe and secure. We’ve removed these offending apps and will continue to be vigilant about looking for apps that might put our users at risk.”
This latest purge of apps also follows an ongoing Apple project begun in September to review all 2 million+ apps in its App Store in an effort to rid it of “apps that no longer function as intended, don’t follow current review guidelines or are outdated.”
What’s the best way to identify a fake app? Check to see if there are any reviews of the app, look for evidence of past versions, and read through the menus to look for nonsensical (most likely) translated English and obvious misspellings (e.g., “Footlocke” instead of “Footlocker”).
In addition, to protect your brand, Corsearch Digital Brand Solutions provides a complete suite of tools that empowers brand owners and their legal teams to detect, assess, and act against the most serious brand disparagement, counterfeiting, and domain infringement threats. For more information, visit the Corsearch website.