Strange iPhone apps for kids ages four and above were spotted on the App Store, which apparently turned into online casinos when using a VPN.
According to FlickType founder Kosta Eleftheriou, who has recently been calling out scams on Apple's App Store, there are two apps that pretend to be games for kids, but are actually online casinos for iPhone users in Russia or those that use a VPN in Russia.
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The developer is running casino ads that bring people into this App Store page - notice the casino-like visuals.In order to pass Apple’s “robust” review process, they claim the app is “a game in which the player needs to find a couple of pictures in the shortest possible time“. pic.twitter.com/hG70f8TlenApril 20, 2021
While a casino app disguising itself as a kids game is already suspicious, it's the app's lack of Apple’s in-app purchase system that's the real problem. Apple has a rule (opens in new tab) for developers about this, as in-app purchases are required for users to purchase digital items. In these apps, users could use MasterCard, Visa or Bitcoin.
Eleftheriou points out that both apps, named Lucky Stars and Vegas Pirates, got past Apple's App Store review process by the developer claiming the apps were "games in which the player needs to find a couple of pictures in the shortest possible time“.
The developer’s website listed on the App Store was also very suspicious, as it led to ngs.ru, a Russian news outlet.
Online casinos and gambling apps on the App Store aren't hard to come by, as Apple does allow them. However, Eleftheriou's main point is there were many red flags that got past the tech giant's strict review system. As of writing, both apps have now been taken down.
Apple has already come under fire for its terms and conditions on the App Store being labeled as unfair and could break competition law. Developers need to agree to strict rules, making it bizarre to see scam apps make it onto the App Store.
As always, do a background check of an app before downloading it, as you wouldn't want to be ripped off like this iPhone VPN scam.