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App Store scammers are costing iPhone users millions with bogus subscriptions

Apple is quietly facing down App Store scammers who’ve been duping to consumers into paying subscription fees totalling hundreds of pounds per year.

According to reports, a number of popular utilities apps – that do not necessarily offer subscription-worthy content – are bringing in millions by confusing iPhone users with free trials that quickly convert into paid weekly subscriptions.

The investigation from TechCrunch found one app such app rose into the top 70 top-grossing apps on the US App Store. Scanner App, for example brought in $14.3 million per year, despite being free to download. The earnings come from a $3.99 per week fee, which according to App Store reviewers, kicks-in after the first three days of use. That information is hidden in the app’s fine print.

Complaints from users are seemingly hidden within a mass of positive reviews from users giving it an average rating of 4.7 stars out of 5.

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Following the report, Apple deleted the app from the App Store, along with some of the others that were outed. Another application, Weather Alarms, also disappeared from the App Store shortly after the company was contacted by TechCrunch. It earned over $1 million last year, according to data from Sensor Tower.

It used a so-called “dark pattern” design to deceive users into opting into a subscription totalling a whopping $20 per month.

A Forbes report had earlier exposed an app called QR Code Reader, which had brought in $5.3 million a year by tricking users into paying $156 per year via subscriptions. That app remains available on the App Store.

Some of the apps involved are even paying Apple for prominent positioning on the App Store, leading to more consumers encountering the apps when searching the portal.

If you’re unsure about whether you’re paying for apps you shouldn’t be, head to the iOS Settings app, tap on your name, tap Apple ID > View Apple ID > Subscriptions to see active subs.

Apple has not publicly commented on the story, but at least the firm is acting to combat this issue.

Have you been duped by bogus subscriptions on the App Store? Drop us a line @TrustedReviews on Twitter.

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