How a Scammer Apparently Made $13 Million from Apple’s App Store

App developer, researcher, and self-described “professional App Store critic” Kosta Eleftheriou (@keleftheriou) in a recently published series of tweets exposed a blatant scam on the App Store that has swindled Apple’s customers out of an estimated $13 million USD since 2018.

The app, known as AmpMe, advertises itself as a volume booster that can also be used to organize and take part in “Live Parties” with others where everyone’s listening to the same songs via YouTube, Deezer, SoundCloud, or the host’s personal Music library.

However, the app charges an “absurd” $10 USD per week auto-renewing subscription for “VIP Access,” which lets users “synchronize music on multiple devices” and “watch videos at the same time.” Yes, you read that right — a whopping $520 USD per year for an app that merely boosts your volume and lets you listen to music together with others.

While the marketing material says users can “cancel anytime,” the process for doing so has basically been designed around making it so incredibly hard that users simply give in and cough up the $10 every week instead.

The developers of the app have accumulated “10,000s of fake reviews over the years,” said Eleftheriou, allowing them to drown out the genuine ones, the majority of which rate the app one star (likely because the App Store doesn’t have a zero-star option) and caution others against downloading it.

At the time of writing, AmpMe ranked number 24 in the Music category on the App Store and has a 4.3-star rating with over 54,000 reviews.

AmpMe’s ways have made it the 135th highest-grossing app on Apple’s App Store, netting a whopping $13 million USD since 2018 for what is all but an empty value proposition.

What’s even more disrespectful to Apple’s customers is the fact that AmpMe has been featured on the App Store — not once, but several times. And yet, it would appear as though no one at Apple has actually looked into the app with a fine-tooth comb.

Apple prides itself on its stringent app review and approval process, and some developers apparently being able to make millions with dishonest ways may be a hard pill to swallow for those who follow App Store rules.