Apple App Store Riddled With Money-Sucking Fleeceware Apps

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Researchers warn that apps that market themselves as “free” are tricking users to subscribe to services that rack up as much as $500 in charges yearly.

Researchers are warning iPhone users of fleeceware apps after finding more than 30 examples of them on Apple’s App Store. Fleeceware is jargon for apps that trick users into paying excessive fees for basic applications and functionality that is available free elsewhere.

Many of these fleeceware apps come in the form of image editors, horoscope apps, QR code or barcode scanners, and face filter apps targeted at younger generations. Typically, publishers of fleeceware target users who may be less cognizant or sensitive to initial fees and reoccurring charges. While the apps market themselves as “free apps,” they are covertly charging for pricey subscription services – gouging some users by as much as $500 a year, researchers said.

“Many of these apps charge subscription rates like $30 per month or $9 per week after a 3- or 7-day trial period,” said Jagadeesh Chandraiah, with Sophos, in an analysis this week. “If someone kept paying that subscription for a year, it would cost $360 or $468, respectively. For an app.”

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