‘A Phone Tracker Spy’, iPhone App With Hundreds of Seemingly-Fraudulent Five-Star Ratings

This is a rather bizarre $1 iPhone app. At a glance purports to allow you to “locate any cell phone in the world, on any network, anywhere in the world”. Enter a phone number, wait, and it shows you where the phone is on a map.

Now, of course, this isn’t technically possible. And the developer’s description of the app starts with “For entertainment purposes only” — the only indication given that the app is a gag. Most people don’t read descriptions closely, and the app is categorized in the App Store under “Utilities”, so, unsurprisingly, the comments are filled with angry people who consider themselves ripped off for having bought it. People are buying it because they think it does what it says.

But here’s the really odd part: If you view the app info in iTunes (as opposed to the web), you can see that the app has an average rating of 3.5 stars, including 532 five-star ratings. But if you sort the customer reviews by “most favorable”, all but two (both of which were left in the last 24 hours) are one-star reviews. It would appear that someone has figured out a scam to rack up fraudulent five-star ratings.

Thursday, 12 August 2010