• 1,011 Titles Removed from App Store for Fake Reviews

    Molinker, the prolific Chinese development company behind numerous iPhone apps, saw all its titles pulled from the App Store on Sunday after an attentive user noted that most - if not all - of its five-star reviews appeared to be fake. The scam caused over 1,000 apps - nearly 1% of all of the titles on the App Store - to disappear at once.

    The user, "SCW," contacted a Glyn Evans of the iphoneography blog whom he knew to have contacts at Apple top management. SCW had noted something odd about the glowing (and poorly written) reviews of the "NightCam Pro" app and went through the applications offered by Molinker. As many as 90% of the reviews on some of their applications appeared to be written by a group of people who only reviewed Molinker applications. On “NightCam Pro”, for example, 42 of the 44 5-star reviews appeared to be fake.

    Evans forwarded SCW's email directly to Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing.

    Attention Phil Schiller,

    MAJOR FAKE AppStore Reviews & Ratings ALERT:
    Please investigate for I have just looked at 44 of the reviewers who posted reviews for this Molinker Inc app "NightCam Pro" & EVERY Review except 2 of the 44+ are ALL FAKE 5 ★★★★★ reviews. (on my iPhone I could view more reviews but on my computer only 35 were visible & of the 35 visible 34 ARE fake). If you investigate ALL have ONLY reviewed ONLY Molinker apps. A little odd that 42 of 44 US reviews are poorly written & that all users have only written reviews for either All Molinker photography apps (giving 5 star reviews to 6-7 Molinker apps ONLY no other apps by any other developer) or the same 2 apps.

    I await your reply & hope this grabs your utmost attention. Every moment wasted will result in another user being mislead & purchasing an app due to false reviews & rating results.

    I plan to have this email publicly posted for all iPhone users to see & make their own investigated decision.
    By Sunday night, the entire catalog of Molinker’s 1,011 applications had disappeared, and Schiller sent Evans an email, saying “Yes, this developer’s apps have been removed from the App Store and their ratings no longer appear either.”

    Ma Kun, the listed owner of Molinker's domain, was contacted by Julen of AppFreak and claimed to not know what was wrong.

    Hi Julen,
    Thank you for your message about it.
    We got email from Apple yesterday [Sunday 6th] which told us our contract is changed to pending status.
    Actually, we do not know what's wrong so far. We had contacted Apple for such sudden changes, hope we can get quick response and actions from Apple.
    Since the apps and reviews are all down, it's impossible to form an independent opinion, but the objection seemed well supported by facts and evidence. By all appearances, the developer used its promo codes to create a bunch of bogus reviewers on iTunes as its sockpuppets. It's to be hoped that the debacle would serve as an example to any other unscrupulous developer who would try something like this in the future.
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