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Biggest App Store Fraud Regarding Top Apps Rankings Discovered

If you are a frequent App Store shopper, then you should understand just how important the rating system is with regards to your decision whether to purchase an app or not. Coupled with the actual written reviews, the rating system is indeed a highly useful reference for people who are looking for the best apps to install. However, according to a new report, the same rating system can be manipulated.

App Store Logo
It all started with a thread over at the TouchArcade's forum where user walterkaman posted a new topic entitled "Biggest FRAUD in the Top 25 Free Ranking." The thread basically sheds light in a particular seedy marketing ad network that guarantees to get a developer's app into the top 25 App Store rankings for the cheap price of $5,000. When walterkaman was asked how he was doing it, he divulged that he was able to outsource a bot farm that will automatically download his client's app and bump them into the rankings. This is just App Store fraud.

That's when he let loose the BIGGEST FRAUD ever, he said he had outsourced someone to build him a bot farm and the bots will automatically download his clients' apps and drive up their rankings!!! He even told me that even though I might see my app climb up the app store, they aren't "REAL" at first until it gets to the top and that's when REAL HUMAN players will start seeing my app and play it.

Manipulated Top Free iPhone Apps
What's even more surprising is the fact that this method actually works really well and that 8 out of the top 25 free iPhone apps (see the image above) are in fact boosted ones. And what's sad is that according to the aforementioned ad network, Apple is already aware of such practice but has kept mum about it. But that is until yesterday.

As a reaction to the forum posts and the media attention it got, Apple posted a new message to its Developer site:

Adhering to Guidelines on Third-Party Marketing Services

Once you build a great app, you want everyone to know about it. However, when you promote your app, you should avoid using services that advertise or guarantee top placement in App Store charts. Even if you are not personally engaged in manipulating App Store chart rankings or user reviews, employing services that do so on your behalf may result in the loss of your Apple Developer Program membership. Get helpful tips and resources on marketing your apps the right way from the App Store Resource Center.

Apple seems to be committed in cleaning up the App Store. Aside from taking some action against App Store piracy, the Cupertino company is also working to remove misleading rip-off apps. [via AppleInsider]

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