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Fake Shopping Apps on the Rise

by | Nov 4, 2016 | eCommerce | 0 comments

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A few days ago, people who were searching in Apple’s iTunes app store for “Michael Kors” were presented with the result that went like this: “Shopping Online for Michael Kors.” It was a well curated and well-maintained app with a complete and neat quality descriptions along with the communication to offer users of the app both substantial discounts on Kors’ products and a locator from which one can find Kors’ outlet stores that also offer the brand-name designer’s products at a discount. Everything was perfect…except for one thing. It was fake. Yes, the app was fake. The most surprising thing was that results for this and other fake shopping apps were appearing near or even above legitimate apps.  Of course, now Apple has removed the Kors app from the App store.

The talks about how millions of fake apps are operating within the ecosystem of mobiles have always made the rounds. With digital advancements and online tutorials, it’s not at all difficult to create fake shopping apps that look just like the real thing. Even their checkout forms bear astonishing similarity to the real ones. And that’s why Michael Kors is not the only brand that’s been victimized.

Someone also created a fake shopping app for Dillard’s, an American department store chain with 330 stores in 28 states. One shopper opted to buy three pairs of leggings for $198.95. The app tried to collect the money, but the purchase was rejected. She was really lucky!

Many of the foremost targets of these inauthentic app makers are retail businesses. Why? It’s very simple to understand. The advent of e-commerce and the ease of purchase that smartphones bring has made mobile the first choice as a tool to conduct online transactions. In last year, sales through mobiles leaped 56% to $49.2 billion, according to comScore. Besides, 7 in 10 US iPhone owners said that earning loyalty points for downloading a retailer’s mobile app had influenced them to download it. One more point to consider here is luxury brands are usually costly. Naturally, it becomes much simpler to lure people with fake discount offers. That’s why Coach’s impostor app was announcing an extra 20% off on bags, shoes, and accessories. Obviously, any hacker, even with a C grade in his school, will guess the profitability of creating fake shopping apps for the retail and luxury industry.

Part of this depressing problem is that these fake shopping apps are available on major app platforms like Android and Apple iOS. It is far more common on Android due to the open nature of the platform. That makes it easier for impostors to make on to your device. It’s much simpler to bypass built-in security measures and install apps from non-official sources.

And the above-mentioned examples are enough to prove that though Apple boasts iron-like security, it’s not as strong as they’d like you to believe. It has to blame itself for this lapse. Apple is allowing app operators to buy search ads through its App Store. It has been observed that some of those ads are purchased by fake operators intending to improve their position in search results. Apple is also finding it hard to cut short the fake reviews that apps are getting in its app store. Just recently Apple removed the Dash app from its app store over claims of 1,000 fake reviews. Further, there have been talks about the developer’s claim that the reviews were posted by a third-party for whom he had paid an Apple Developer membership.

Of course, this is painting a bleak picture of online buying. The threat is even bigger as the holiday season is approaching. Retailers should remember to have their teams on the lookout for any impostors and to warn your audience, if need be, without scaring them away.

Note: Being vigilant pays off. Go through this blog to secure yourself against referral fraud. Also have a glance at this blog to know what Amazon is doing to get rid of fake reviews.

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