If you’re an app developer, you know that getting your app on the Apple App Store can be quite difficult because of the rigorous process of getting your app approved by Apple. A Reddit user busymom0 reported on the Apple subreddit yesterday a dating app that has a ton of fake 5 stars reviews and it’s making over $200,000 per month by scamming people with fake promises in the form of in-app purchases of $69.99.
The app “One Night Stand – Adult Hook up Tonight” is currently ranked on 26th place in its category and has over 67,882 all 5-star reviews. The app has only been launched on September 15, 2017.
The Reddit user went on a full-scale investigation and found thousands of identical reviews, all rated 5 stars. It’s hard to believe how this app is still in the App Store and why is Apple not doing anything about it.
Here is the full story posted on Reddit
When asked by the Reddit community why he/she was so keen on investigating, the Reddit user said that being an app developer, very often he/she goes on the App Store looking for inspiration on UI design and ideas.
I often go researching apps on the app store to see what’s trending, inspiration for app ideas, look at nice UI designs etc. This morning I came across this app which is currently ranked #26 in their category and had over 67,882 all 5-star reviews. Yes, you read that right, all 5-star reviews despite only being available since September 15, 2017.
Few people are asking me why I went to such extent to expose this? I did network security in school, so this is up my alley. Plus, I am a developer and make my living off of the app store, so this kind of stuff personally impacts me. Maybe I am jealous that a shady app is taking a spot in the top rankings which could be taken by real apps and also reducing the trust of regular people in the app store and making them skeptical about legitimate apps and in-app purchases too. So when they would come across one of my legitimate apps with legitimate 5-star reviews, they would be skeptical. This stuff erodes the trust in a marketplace and should be exposed. Is it bad then that I am frustrated and outraged? You tell me.
After spotting the unusual amount of 5-star reviews on such a new app, he/she decided to dig a little deeper to see what’s going on.
The official description on the App page has a lot of grammatical mistakes and inappropriate language, again we are wondering how is this acceptable on the App Store and why is Apple not doing anything about it.
Let’s look at the promotional text: “Looking for someone who wanna find a dating with top hot singles and love adventures. Find the real dates online. Help you hook up with the one you interested in.”
I am an immigrant and English isn’t my first language. But I am pretty sure there’s a ton of grammatical errors in this. The app claims “real dates”. ROFL. “Top hot singles” & “love adventures”. LMFAO.
Let’s read the description. I am going to trim this down a bit because I can only handle bullshit to a limit.
“If you are a good talker, maybe you can hookup with someone on a beautiful night. Drag your photos & fill in your profile, with a click of mouse, you can check the one you like and chat with him/her directly. Start a chat freely since it’s your time to show and you may meet the one you like and hookup now.”
Click of a mouse eh. I didn’t know Apple replaced the headphone jack with a fucking mouse.
“Get ready to a new dating with someone you like, enjoy chatting with him/her or dive into the world of passion and desire. All you need is our app One Night Stand. Search One Night Stand in iTunes now and be ready for a new life here. meet your fate one Still shame to share your expression with others? Wanna make yourself more attractive? Eager to meet someone you like and wanna hookup with him/her directly. One Night Stand is your best choice. With all benefits above, you can enjoy more while you wanna hookup with someone. Find the real one online, meet the one you like nearby & One Night Stand will help you hook up with the one you interested in. Now, download it, and then meet the one you love!”
MAN, I AM SOOOO GETTING LAID TONIGHTTTT!!! Just gotta buy this 1 Week at 19.99 USD in app purchase and I will make all kinds of “love adventures” with the “top hot singles”. Or maybe I will go for the 3 months at 69.99 USD. 69 nomsayin 😉
“As our app enables the display of users’ locations on a map, to help you find users nearby you, and before display your information, we would request for your permission, you have right to reject it and don’t use the feature, if you turn on the location sharing, then keep an eye on unfriendly person and fake information.”
I am no rocket scientist but I am sure this app is the definition of “fake information”.
The 5-star reviews are also very badly written and there are tons of duplicates and patterns.
The app has received a total of 68,066 reviews since inception. I sorted them to show “5 stars only”. I am a developer myself and my mind was absolutely blown with 67,882 all 5-star reviews. Man, even Apollo for Reddit has only received a total of 3800 reviews with only 3100 5 star reviews. So this dating app must be exceptionally good.
Let’s look at the name of the last few reviewers: Maria84, 7Linda, 84Peter, Howard35, 61Nicola, Boyle33, Geoffrey93, Jones24, 66Celeste, Maggie42, Doyle19, 46Letitia, 18Michelle.
Anyone notice a pattern in these names? It’s like someone left a phone directory inside a for loop.
Here are a few of the thousands of 5-star reviews discovered by the Reddit user:
Thank you for trying your best to make one night stand a safe, fun app.Stay happy, developers! – Betsy Scripps63
Thank you for trying your best to make one night stand a safe, fun app.Stay happy, developers! – Gerald Watt
Overall good app, really helps meet new people, and build relationships. – 46Letitia MacAdam
Overall good app, really helps meet new people, and build relationships. – gZachary
As soon as I sign up, I swipe to the cute girl. Got match. Now we planned to meet up and have dinner with. I recommended this app for all singles. – Lennon Gunter
As soon as I sign up, I swipe to the cute girl. Got match. Now we planned to meet up and have dinner with. I recommended this app for all singles. – 37Gwendolyn Jackson
I likes it. I was using the app and feel great. I will use often and invite your friends to join. Thanks developers.
date app Wonder – Bernice Rosalind
date app app – 74Zara Kennan
date app Great – Richard Carllylek
date app Great – 9Sally Tours
date app Great – Nora Hopkin88
date app Wonder – Patricia Browning
date app Nice – Jill Wolfv
date app Kool – 46Elsa Lucy
date app Nxnsn – Frances Brightk
date app Great Stuff – Benjamin Jenkin
date app Awesome – 50Maria Wood
The quickest way too hook up fresh meat for the evening 🙂 – 69Elizabeth Blume
i got a 9 month relationship off of it – another fake bot
tinder dating Best app ever little costly tho
pof.com It’s pretty good
tinder app This app is amazing
okcupid Amazing, and I’m loving how friendly the people are.
free dating app Awesome
tinder app Mee
hook up dating Awesome app
pof app Awesome app ig
dating apps for teens This app is pretty decent.
tinder dating Fantastic app, tons of girls. Would do again
tider It was so great even if the 12 hours is the only time that itis free it is still worth it coz you will know a lot of girls very nice app must try it!!
tinder app gang
net a cougar Was a fun experience
grinder dating Great app
dating app cheat Very good app make me fell good
tinder for kids Amazing
ginder Ijgdg. Thug ytjtffb thug
bumbles Is amazing
No, I didn’t make a typo pasting the same review twice. That’s the same exact text, down to the typos reviewed by hundreds of different people within a few minutes. There are hundreds of reviews which start with the exact same first few lowercase characters, then a random word in upper case. There’s another pattern of pasting some other popular app’s name in the review – probably for ASO (App store optimization) purposes to get better ranking in the store. Some reviewers claim to get 9 month long relationships from a 3-month-old “one-night stand” app.
Now, sure, there are real reviews too which are all 1-star reviews warning everyone else about the scam but 3000 1 star real reviews easily get overpowered by 67000 5 star fake ones.
The screenshots displayed in the app appear to be stolen from Instagram and Facebook profiles.
Let’s look at the screenshots. App uses pictures of attractive women as you would expect from most dating apps. However, let’s dig a bit deeper. I downloaded the screenshots and did a reverse google search on them. These pictures are straight up stolen from someone’s Instagram profile and other chive articles with titles “Sometimes you gotta let them breathe” with pictures of women with big tits.
The Reddit user used Sensor Tower to estimate the revenue and downloads for this dodgy app.
Next, let’s estimate the downloads and revenue for this app. For this, we go use SensorTower. For November, it estimates 70,000 downloads and $200,000 revenue. Now I know that sensor tower estimation isn’t that accurate but for an app which is #26 in the store, I won’t be surprised if this number were actually close enough. Considering this app has been available since September 15th and Christmas is when apps get the most revenue, I won’t be surprised if they had scammed half a million by taking advantage of gullible people.
The Reddit user actually downloaded the app to test it and see how good or bad it is.
I downloaded the app to test it and no surprises, was bombarded with a ton of fake messages from obviously fake “milfs”. But unfortunately, I couldn’t read most of the messages as I couldn’t afford to buy a $69 in-app purchase. The app was also filled with obvious typos, misspellings like “Receiving info” etc. Didn’t bother wasting too much time on the app.
Here are some resources provided by the Reddit user for those who want to take a closer look at this abomination.
If anyone is interested in screenshots: https://imgur.com/a/kIqC9
Check out a google docs data dump of all the reviews here:
Check out a google docs data dump of all the reviews here:
The Reddit user also raised this problem for the community to discuss.
Can we all please discuss how such scam gets around the app review team when us developers often have to go through such a strict app review on our legitimate apps? Can we also please discuss the completely broken rating system and how such app has been available on the store for over 3 months despite being reported countless times and despite getting thousands of fake 5-star reviews?
There were a few other posts couple months ago about apps claiming to be antivirus software but were just scam. This proves disparity in the app review system for legitimate apps vs such scam apps.
The Reddit user also proposed solutions for this problem:
- Have some trigger which auto flags any app which is climbing up the rankings or getting too many reviews too fast and then have some human manually verify it?
- Flag reviews which have the same text.
- If an app has a subscription model OR very expensive pricing, pay extra attention while reviewing the app.
- Pay attention when reviewing apps and shit like “click of a mouse”, “Drag photos”, “Play store” should be easy to identify scams. When I submit my apps, they go through extreme scrutiny and often get rejected for silly stuff (example: Restore button not available for IAP – even though it actually is, App was rated 9+ and should be higher even though I rated the app 17+). So I wonder how these ones get through.
- Why is reporting an app so hard on iOS? I can’t find a report button anywhere on the app page. Ended up using the support website to report it.
- iOS 11 App store has no way to sort/filter reviews. So if you look at this app, it ONLY shows you the 5 star ratings ONLY. Completely hides the 1 star reviews which deceives the consumer. The app store should have a filter for sorting by time/rating, filtering by number of stars, should let you see other reviews from the same user etc.