Banned Dash developer accused of nearly 1,000 fradulent reviews, Apple says

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in iPhone
In response to an uproar from developers over last week's decision to strip popular API documentation app Dash from the iOS App Store, Apple on Monday released a statement saying the developer manipulated fraudulently enabled positive reviews of his own app and negative reviews of competing titles.









Last week, Apple caused waves in the developer community when it terminated Bogdan Popescu's iTunes Connect account for allegedly manipulating App Store ratings by posting fraudulent reviews, charges Popescu denies. The company today offered further detail on the extent of the developer's illicit actions in a statement provided to The Loop.



"Almost 1,000 fraudulent reviews were detected across two accounts and 25 apps for this developer so we removed their apps and accounts from the App Store," said Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr. "Warning was given in advance of the termination and attempts were made to resolve the issue with the developer but they were unsuccessful. We will terminate developer accounts for ratings and review fraud, including actions designed to hurt other developers. This is a responsibility that we take very seriously, on behalf of all of our customers and developers."



Apple's anti-fraud team has been working with Popescu for at least two years, the report said. An initial warning went unanswered, and repeated attempts to clarify the situation failed, prompting the company to take action on behalf of customers.



Popescu is said to have paid for positive reviews of his app Dash, falsely inflating its standing in the App Store strictly forbidden. The act is strictly forbidden by Apple's App Store terms and conditions. The developer is also accused of enabling negative reviews of competing apps, though whether or not those were paid for is unclear.



Following his app's removal from the iOS App Store, Popescu urged users to switch to the Mac version. That iteration has since been pulled.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 42
    Why in the hell are any in the developer community getting so riled up over another developer, especially when Apple SAID the guy was involved in some shady activity? Apple has no reason to lie about it. A single developer is essentially meaningless to their interests.
    mwhiteperkedelstanthemannolamacguyirelandwatto_cobraandrewj5790mdriftmeyerboredumbtallest skil
  • Reply 2 of 42
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,716member
    Scumbag developer abusing the system is trying to play the victim. 
    stanthemanSpamSandwichwatto_cobraandrewj5790mdriftmeyerrepressthisronnmacguiaderutterjbdragon
  • Reply 3 of 42
    Why in the hell are any in the developer community getting so riled up over another developer, especially when Apple SAID the guy was involved in some shady activity? Apple has no reason to lie about it. A single developer is essentially meaningless to their interests.
    The developer publicly denied the allegations. Apple stands strong with their stance, so did the developer lie or was there a third-party involved?
    liketheskyanton zuykovronn
  • Reply 4 of 42
    i'm amused by the armchair executives online who are under some mistaken notion that this is a court of law and apple is obligated to personally hand over its fraud findings to them. 
    netmageSpamSandwichmwhitewatto_cobraandrewj5790mdriftmeyerrepressthisronnjony0
  • Reply 5 of 42
    Why in the hell are any in the developer community getting so riled up over another developer, especially when Apple SAID the guy was involved in some shady activity? Apple has no reason to lie about it. A single developer is essentially meaningless to their interests.
    The developer publicly denied the allegations. Apple stands strong with their stance, so did the developer lie or was there a third-party involved?
    They are certainly incentivized to lie and Apple called them to the carpet on their evidently false claims (not something Apple needed to do, by the way...Apple can kick out any developer over any reason or for no reason at all). 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 42
    demisbellotdemisbellot Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    This in no way represents what actually happened, here's a recording where Apple tried to blackmail the developer into forcing him to say that Apple didn't do anything wrong in order to get his Apps restored: https://blog.kapeli.com/dash-and-apple-my-side-of-the-story Now we get this PR statement directly from an Apple mouthpiece accusing him of being fraudulent when they know and acknowledge that he wasn't behind closed doors. Disappointing behavior on everyone involved.
    edited October 2016 tdknox
  • Reply 7 of 42
    irelandireland Posts: 17,671member
    Time for Apple's legal department to go after MacKeeper now (not in App Store, I know) and also kick out any of those obvious copycat developers from App Store—they need better tools for this specifically.
    edited October 2016 watto_cobraanton zuykovstevenozrepressthisjony0
  • Reply 8 of 42
    wovelwovel Posts: 956member
    This in no way represents what actually happened, here's a recording where Apple tried to blackmail the developer into forcing him to say that Apple didn't do anything wrong in order to get his Apps restored: https://blog.kapeli.com/dash-and-apple-my-side-of-the-story Now we get this PR statement directly from an Apple mouthpiece accusing him of being fraudulent when they know and acknowledge that he wasn't behind closed doors. Disappointing behavior on everyone involved.
    Actually they gave him an easy out and he refused.  (ok not refused, but made a bonehead move that might void the deal).  It was certainly not blackmail.  He said the accounts weren't really linked.  Fine, explain that to everyone.  Publicly unlink the accounts and we will reinstate one.  Apple actually hasn't done anything wrong so they really had no need to blackmail him.

    I don't know why the Apple spokes person decided to release a statement in the middle of all this, but it does not mean he should have blew the chance they gave him.

    Edit: Clarified the refused part of my comment
    edited October 2016 anton zuykovcwingrav
  • Reply 9 of 42
    This in no way represents what actually happened, here's a recording where Apple tried to blackmail the developer into forcing him to say that Apple didn't do anything wrong in order to get his Apps restored: https://blog.kapeli.com/dash-and-apple-my-side-of-the-story Now we get this PR statement directly from an Apple mouthpiece accusing him of being fraudulent when they know and acknowledge that he wasn't behind closed doors. Disappointing behavior on everyone involved.
    This in every way represents what actually happened. Apple was not forcing him to say they did nothing wrong. Apple was trying to clarify that they did not make a mistake. They shut down an account with fraudulent activity, as well as an account it was linked to, which just so happened to be his.

    You say that the phone call accuses him of being fraudulent, yet nowhere in that phone call does that happen. IN FACT, the representative clearly states that by posting that an account with fraudulent activity was linked to his, he is NOT suggesting he did anything wrong.

    What I take from that phone call is that Apple is simply asking for him to tell the truth, which is that unfortunately his account was linked with another account with fraudulent activity. Apple didn't make a mistake and he didn't commit fraud. The only mistake you could argue that he made was linking test devices and a credit card to someone else's account who clearly has no respect for the developer program.

    The phone call I listened to was professional and courteous, and the representative simply wanted to ensure that he was on board with what happened. It is obviously an unfortunate situation, but instead of saying "Yeah ok, it's a shame this happened and I won't be helping that other person out ever again" he's more concerned about his own reputation, when his reputation was never in question.

    If Apple is happy for him to say he did not commit fraud, as well as that Apple was simply following procedure when they find fraudulent activity on an account, I can't see what the problem is. This guy is being a chance to clear his name, and Apple's, and he doesn't seem to get the fact that he has an SVP willing to work with him on this matter. I mean, Jesus Christ, show some humility. If something had screwed up with my developer account and Phil Schiller (PHIL FUCKING SCHILLER!!!) attended to it, saying that he wants to work with me to resolve the issue, I would never be so arrogant and petty.

    Just tell the truth! Apple didn't make a mistake, he didn't make a mistake, it's just an unfortunate situation that they're trying to resolve. Get on board!
    watto_cobracwingravlondorronnipilyaasdasdsmiffy31uraharaargonautjony0
  • Reply 10 of 42
    So, what happens, if I as a developer, pay for that bot voting, except that the goal would be to increase the number of positive reviews of my main competitor, while also giving negative reviews to the apps of all other developers (including my own), thereby setting that guy up? 
    Just some food for thought....

    Not trying to be on the side of that developer....but I am curious as to how that would play out?
    edited October 2016
  • Reply 11 of 42
    demisbellotdemisbellot Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    This in every way represents what actually happened.

    No it didn't, Apple PR and this article are trying to conflate that 2 separate "unknowingly linked accounts" as the same developer which is what this article is misleading to and why you're confused about what really happened as a result. This article suggests that the Dash App developer paid for reviews for *Dash App* which wasn't the case (and didn't need false reviews since it was a quality App other iOS developers love). The fraudulent reviews were made on the 20 or so other Cookie cutter Apps from the other developer account which he said he setup for a relative 3-4 years ago.

    Apple deservedly thought they were from the same developer account since he used his credit card to setup his relatives account. But he said it wasn't his account and he never created it but Apple still pulled Dash by association thinking the "unknowingly linked accounts" were from the same developer and they didn't bother to notify him. Apple is trying to mislead/bury this point and with the help of this article suggest he did the fraud himself to promote his own Dash App (which didn't need promoting).

    From the recording Apple was trying to force him to publish a post acknowledging that Apple never made a mistake which was very clear that was their primary concern in order to re-instate his account. He refused to admit he did anything wrong and that he'll just publish the truth about what happened instead which Apple agreed that they will review, so he sent the draft to Apple but whilst he was waiting for Apple's response they broke this PR mouthpiece out in order to discredit an Indie developer as a Fraud first and make it look like they're a champion to Indie developers when behind closed doors they acknowledge in the call that in all likely-hood he wasn't responsible for the fraudulent activity.

    So we have Apple only caring about Apple PR and the backlash from other iOS developers and issuing vague statements leading to misleading articles like this to discredit the Indie developers character and diminish his facts of the Story. Apple only started caring about Dash because it's loved by many iOS developers who became very interested in Apple's handling with Indie Dev Apps and why Phil got involved. So they tried hard to work with the developer to re-instate his account and App if he agreed to publish Apple-approved content admitting that fraudulent activity was on one of his linked developer accounts and that Apple never did anything wrong. But he's adamant he had no idea of the fraudulent activity and that he was never contacted before his app was pulled (which Apple also admits in the call).

    The entire situation is unfortunate and isn't one that Apple initiated, but this offensive PR-attack with vaguely worded accusations are being used to misrepresent the events of this case is extremely disappointing from Apple and the PR spots putting their spin on it.

    edited October 2016 lightknight
  • Reply 12 of 42
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,313member
    This is the reason I pay NO attention to user reviews anywhere. Glowing positive reviews are paid for. Hateful negative reviews are just disgruntled idiots venting their spleens. What to think about a product that has as many 1 star ratings as it has 5 star ratings? And I’m very careful about allegedly professional reviewers too. Too much possibility of under-the-table payoffs. I do the best I can to research a product without relying on some anonymous bozo’s opinion.
    bestkeptsecretSpamSandwichasdasdargonaut
  • Reply 13 of 42
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,313member
    So, what happens, if I as a developer, pay for that bot voting, except that the goal would be to increase the number of positive reviews of my main competitor, while also giving negative reviews to the apps of all other developers (including my own), thereby setting that guy up? 
    Just some food for thought....

    Not trying to be on the side of that developer....but I am curious as to how that would play out?

    Fraud is fraud no matter the motive. I guess you flunked your ethics class, huh. 
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 14 of 42
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,765member
    So he uses his own credit card to create a second account for a relative, and this account is then used for fraudulent activity. And this relative doesn't warn him that he's been receiving warnings from Apple for two years. 

    Well something's not right. 
    glynhronncharlesgresasdasdargonautentropys
  • Reply 15 of 42
    lkrupp said:
    So, what happens, if I as a developer, pay for that bot voting, except that the goal would be to increase the number of positive reviews of my main competitor, while also giving negative reviews to the apps of all other developers (including my own), thereby setting that guy up? 
    Just some food for thought....

    Not trying to be on the side of that developer....but I am curious as to how that would play out?

    Fraud is fraud no matter the motive. I guess you flunked your ethics class, huh. 
    That is not what my comment was about. Also, I didn't say/imply that I supported the developer...
    edited October 2016
  • Reply 16 of 42
    croprcropr Posts: 961member
    I am not taking an side in this case, because I don't know the details, but as a developer this gives me a bad feeling in my stomach.

    There is something fundamentally wrong in the way the App Store terms and conditions are set up.  In case of a dispute Apple is judge and involved party and there is no appeal possible.  If you are a developer and your income depends on the App Store, any dispute can kill your business without any means to fight back.

     
  • Reply 17 of 42
    Rayz2016 said:
    So he uses his own credit card to create a second account for a relative, and this account is then used for fraudulent activity. And this relative doesn't warn him that he's been receiving warnings from Apple for two years. 

    Well something's not right. 
    Yeah.. Podescu makes it seem like the other account is some sort of loose canon, not under his control, but this other account was fraudulently promoting his app and bashing others' apps.. Why would an uncontrolled person be doing stuff that benefits *him*..?
    Doesn't make sense.. Unless he's behind it..
    ronnaderutterkuduSpamSandwichbrertechargonautpscooter63
  • Reply 18 of 42
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,324member
    Rayz2016 said:
    So he uses his own credit card to create a second account for a relative, and this account is then used for fraudulent activity. And this relative doesn't warn him that he's been receiving warnings from Apple for two years. 

    Well something's not right. 
    Yeh. I was going to say. He shouldn't have two dev accounts anyway and you can use one dev account to send out test builds to many testers. Hundreds these days. Apple shouldn't back down. 
    aderutterpscooter63
  • Reply 19 of 42
    cropr said:
    There is something fundamentally wrong in the way the App Store terms and conditions are set up.  In case of a dispute Apple is judge and involved party and there is no appeal possible.  If you are a developer and your income depends on the App Store, any dispute can kill your business without any means to fight back.

     
    Duh.. they own the place.. their place, their rules..
    It's not as if they run the place with taxpayer dollars..
    aderutterSpamSandwich
  • Reply 20 of 42
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,324member
    In any case there was an appeal. And Apple was going to reinstate the account. Until this guy got stroppy. 

    Apple is obviously going to assume that two linked accounts both producing com.karelli.* products are the same people or company. 
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