Millions of iPhone and Android users warned about secret fake reviews in app stores

According to research by Which?

It turns out that dishing out fake praise has become a lucrative business model for cash-strapped scammers.

Fake reviews can trick many tech users into downloading – and in many cases buying – an untrustworthy app – Credit: Which?

The research found that up to a quarter, or 25%, of reviews on Google Play’s top 100 apps are fake.

While 1 in 6 or 17% of reviews on the top 100 apps in the App Store are made up by Apple.

Both companies have set up automated and human moderators to detect and delete fake reviews.

But it seems a growing number of reviewers are showing up online.

A fake review broker site, reviewlancer, claims to have sold nearly 53,000 reviews and shared more than 130,000 reviews between apps, which? found.

While another, called AppSally, offers rating manipulation across many platforms and in previous What? Investigating Fake Reviews.

This type of deception can trick many tech users into downloading — and in many cases buying — an untrustworthy app.

In some cases, these apps can be riddled with malware that can compromise people’s data and privacy.

“Apple and Google fail to prevent fake and suspicious reviews from entering their app stores, putting consumers at tremendous risk of being tricked into downloading apps fueled by unscrupulous tactics,” said Rocio Concha, director for Politics and advocacy of which?.

“Our latest findings illustrate why the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Act is so urgently needed to fight fake reviews and the dominance of tech giants, and finally make consumer protection laws fit for the digital age.”

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Apple said developers who try to cheat the system by manipulating ratings risk having their apps removed.

The company has also encouraged users to report suspected fraudulent behavior on the App Store.

Google said it removes ads that violate its policies and has strict rules to ensure dishonesty doesn’t thrive in its app store.

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