Man Loses $1 Million in Bitcoin from Fake Wallet App in the App Store

Phillipe Christodoulou had 17.1 bitcoin, worth $600,000 at the time (around February) and worth over $1 million as of today, stolen by a fake app he downloaded from the App Store.

When Christodoulou wished to check on his Bitcoin balance last month, he simply fired up the App Store and searched for “Trezor” — the manufacturer of the physical Bitcoin wallet he uses to store his cryptocurrency, in hopes of finding a companion app for his iPhone.

Greeted by an app that sported Trezor’s padlock logo on a background of bright green and a near-five star rating, Christodoulou unsuspectingly downloaded the app and entered his credentials. As soon as he did, he lost nearly all of his life savings.

Scams targeting Bitcoin owners have seen just as meteoric a rise as the cryptocurrency’s value, and have become even more bold as of late. However, Christodoulou believes Apple is equally to blame for the injustice that has befallen him.

“They betrayed the trust that I had in them”, said the victim in an interview with the Washington Post. “Apple doesn’t deserve to get away with this”.

Despite marketing the App Store as “the world’s most trusted marketplace for apps” and even using its stringent curation of the App Store to justify the 15-30% cut it takes out of every transaction going through it, the App Store is nowhere near infallible.

In fact, scam apps on the App Store have been using every dirty trick in the book to generate millions in ill-gotten gains, and the app Christodoulou fell prey to was no different.

How did the scam app make its way into the App Store? Apple said it was a bait-and-switch by the developer, who originally submitted a ‘cryptography’ app to store passwords, but later renamed it to ‘Trezor’, the name of the Czech Republic-based company that makes the cryptocurrency cold storage wallet. The app told Apple’s review team it was not involved in cryptocurrency.

Trezor told the Washington Post it has tried to warn Apple many times about copycat apps in the App Store. The Czech company says it plans to release its own mobile app soon.

Apple did acknowledge that other apps on the App Store have run cryptocurrency scams as well, but did not disclose any specific numbers. Apple also commented on the story:

“User trust is at the foundation of why we created the App Store, and we have only deepened that commitment in the years since,” said Apple spokesperson Fred Sainz. “Study after study has shown that the App Store is the most secure app marketplace in the world, and we are constantly at work to maintain that standard and to further strengthen the App Store’s protections. In the limited instances when criminals defraud our users, we take swift action against these actors as well as to prevent similar violations in the future.”

UK-based Coinfirm tracks cryptocurrency fraud and told the Post five people have reported having cryptocurrency stolen by the fake Trezor app in the App Store, with total losses worth $1.6 million at the time.

So far, the Cupertino, California-based tech giant has refused to name the developer of the fake Trezor app that scammed Christodoulou and at least four others, and also has not said whether the matter has been escalated to law enforcement authorities.

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