Facepalm: Apple's App Store has a better reputation than Google Play when it comes to keeping scam applications off the service, but it does happen, and they can con victims out of a lot of money. In the case of one man who downloaded a fake Bitcoin app, he lost over $600,000 worth of crypto.
The story began last month when Phillipe Christodoulou wanted to check his Bitcoin balance. He decided to do a search for "Trezor," the company that makes the hardware wallet where he stored his crypto, in the hope of finding a companion app.
Christodoulou found a Trezor app that featured the company's padlock logo and green background, so he downloaded it and entered his details. Unfortunately, there are no apps for Trezor wallets; it was a fake snuck onto the store that had no association with the actual firm.
The Washington Post reports that the scammers behind the app pilfered Christodoulou's 17.1 bitcoin, which was worth $600,000 at the time (almost $1 million today). He blames Apple for allowing the app onto its store. "They betrayed the trust that I had in them," he said. "Apple doesn't deserve to get away with this."
Christodoulou added that the app had a five-star rating, which added to its legitimacy. Apple has said nothing about reimbursing him.
Apple reviews all its submitted apps before they're approved. In the case of this fake, it was submitted with the name Trezor and used the company's logo and colors but was presented as a "cryptography" app for encrypting iPhone files and storing passwords. The developers assured Apple it was "not involved in any cryptocurrency," enabling it to appear on the App Store on January 22. Once the app was on the store, it changed itself to a cryptocurrency wallet.
According to Coinfirm, five people lost a total of $1.6 million to the iOS app, while fake Trezor apps on Android are estimated to have conned people out of $600,000.
Apple said it removed the app on February 3 and banned the developer after the real Trezor reported it. Another fake app with the same name appeared two days later. It was also banned.
Sensor Tower data suggests the scam application was downloaded around 1,000 times. Another iPhone user who lost $14,000 worth of Ethereum and Bitcoin claims an Apple representative told him the company was not responsible for losses stemming from the fake Trezor app.