Yesterday I was contacted by regular reader and someone who I consider to be an internet friend SCW, who had unearthed what he believes may be an AppStore review and ratings scam. The reason SCW contacted me, was he knew I have a couple of senior contacts with in Apple, and so wanted my help getting the information he had collated to them.
Having read his email (see below) I was also convinced there was something fishy going on, so between us we got this information to those who count, and last night (GMT) I got confirmation back from Phil Schiller that they would be investigating this possible scam.
The following email was sent by SCW to Phil Schiller:
"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. 10 Reviewers who only reviewed NightCam Pro & ColorMagic (5 Stars), 24+ Reviewers have ONLY written reviews for 6-7 other Molinker photography apps (5 Stars) & 1-2 are real Reviews giving a 1 Star review & even a re-edited review by a user pointing out exactly what I am telling you (user formatt) is one of the two authentic reviews giving 1 star. It is VERY VERY ODD. This is absolutely fake, misleading & pushing false info to customers to buy their apps. One app "ColorMagic" is even on apps front page as an App Store "Staff Favorite" yet the reviews majority are FAKE (203) 5 Star & (91) 1 Star. I would also like to highly suggest to take a deep look into not only the "reviewers" but I will almost bet that all of these users redeemed "Promo Codes" for these apps in order to only access the US app store & publish these endless slew of fake postings. All to increase the developers ratings, status, sales & ultimately have a pay-off when potential customers see such high ratings & then just buy the apps. Then if any poor reviews are made they will be over shadowed by the unlimited amount of amazing 5 Star reviews posted by fake users.
* I have attached 8 desktop screenshots proving many points as listed above in visual form.
Now I must point out I am major user of the App Store & largely the Photography section. My iTunes apps combined collection is 1053+ apps at the moment. As well I should point out I have NOT yet purchased the "NightCam Pro app yet I was planning to when I unearthed this blatant SCAM. I even have been putting off buying "ColorMagic & "OOF" among other Molinker Inc's photography apps. As well I am solely the largest beta tester of iPhone photography apps. I many times give great reviews for apps BUT never will I ever give an app a 5 Star review if it is not worthy. I have NEVER been paid by any developer to beta test their apps nor any other type of payment for anything. I am very blunt & with my critique & reviews of many apps & my reputation as a true & honest person is always on the line. I would personally never jeopardize that for any developer nor plastering the app store with fake reviews. So this really disgusts me! Molinker Inc has gone above & beyond misleading they truly are stealing from the public!
This truly is an absolute disgrace & I will not let this go unnoticed! The public deserves to be aware of such a scam & ultimately legitimate purchases by users of any MoLinker app should be refunded. Molinker apps possibly should all be pulled & the developer banned & fined. If you would like my honest opinion & review PLEASE email me promo codes for all Molinker photography & photography related apps. I will be more than happy to give you my personal & honest opinion & review.
Then read all reviews & click on each reviewers name to view all other apps they have reviewed.
I think I deserve a investigations reward for unearthing this blatant attempt at misleading & stealing from the public.
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."
I have emailed Molinker Inc regarding these accusations, but at time of writing this post have had no response from them.
There may also be something else going on at Molinker Inc that will anger some developers, as they may be copying/cloning some existing apps, for example CameraPlus is very similar in features to Camera Genius and the app that sparked this investigation is unbelievably like Chase Jarvis's 'Best Camera' app, but with added features. I will be posting reviews on both these apps soon, and pointing out just how similar they are.
I will post more on this investigation as the web of deceit unravels, so keep an eye on this post.