5 Mobile App Scams That Just Keep Getting Worse

Google has access to every living person's data, and its algorithms know us better than we know ourselves. For instance, by the time I get to the letter "s" in "salad places downtown," Google already knows I'd rather search for "stepsister feet." And the results page knows I actually meant "stepsister fart." Yet this company on the cutting edge of intelligent systems runs an app store completely helpless before the dumbest, most obvious scams.

The Google Play Store is a diarrhea orgy run by grifters and marketed to their wildest notions of gullible idiots. It's been this way for years, and it seems ... I don't know ... suspicious how the smartest minds in tech keep finding themselves complicit in schemes this stupid.

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5
Subscription Fraud

There was a time when an ordinary app scam was to hope a kid was playing your game and also hope their parents weren't paying attention to what they bought. Unfortunately, there are no financial markets more heavily monitored than a child using a parent's credit card. Even if you can live with selling garbage to neglected children, you can't get away with it for long. Almost immediately, Google started getting sued, lost, and now it's a little less common to see ninja games selling $99 worth of digital throwing stars to a kid who hit the wrong button.

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The new business model is to instead sell $99 worth of subscriptions to a grandpa who hit the wrong button. Here's a fun fact: If you're over 50 and use an Android, you have at least 11 subscriptions to pointless apps hiding in your credit card statement, and you will die without ever knowing this. Long after your funeral, your family will receive a bill for eight months of Mrs. Dash Weekly Microwave i-Recipes and call you a dumbass directly to your urn.

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There's a company out of Turkey called Teknasyon built entirely around this grift. Some of their apps were bringing in $3 million a month from shady subscriptions before enough "customers" noticed and told Apple. Google runs a very popular search engine that can find more information about this multi-million-dollar scam, but Google also runs a very popular app store still proudly featuring the company's scam products. Let's look at some of them!

"The dumbtardeds are being deserve to suffer." -- Teknasyon's corporate code of conduct

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Weather Alarms is a lot like the weather app already included on your phone, only it's slower to load and costs $50 a year. Its uselessness is so self-evident that there's no non-insulting way to explain it, so I'll explain it this way: It's like your mother shaving her chest and then signing up for a Chest Wig of the Month Club Ambassador Package. Weather Alarms offers "critical alerts" to paying customers. To a grandpa-brained moron, this language implies all other sources of weather information are keeping snowstorm secrets from you. It also implies this app will very much let a tornado kill you if your credit card expires.

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It seems absurd to sign up for this, but it's designed to happen by accident. When you open Weather Alarms, a pop-up leads you to believe you only have two choices -- signing up for a free trial or buying a subscription. However, if you wait, a little "X" will finally appear and let you close the pop-up. It's a cute wink to computer-literate users that says, "Psst! You can't trust us!" To your mother, it's one more blip or bloop happening in the blind spot of her reading glasses as she hits the button without dollar signs on it.

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Like most of their apps, the free trial only lasts for three days -- a measurement of time suspiciously used by no one. This subscription scam is the same type of ratfuckery you see at any gym or feline psychic, but they combine it with an extra step of dishonesty and an aggressively useless product. When your gym rips you off, you can at least steal towels, and if your feline psychic runs your credit card because she has two-week cancellation policy, you can just fill her crawl space with the bodies of cats with unfinished business.

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Astral Coach is another app Teknasyon uses to farm the stupid for money. It's $14.99 a month, uses the exact same inescapable pop-up and three-day trial trick, and offers nonsensical spiritual advice like "Shirt and trouser combination clothes will make you feel more charming." Now, I don't want to say something that would lead to an ironic supernatural death, like "Magic isn't real, you fools," but it seems like whatever sorcery Chinese cookies and palm readers hold can't be properly wielded by a phone app. Astral Coach offers horoscopes so generic that every user might as well be a Capricorn, which is a joke chuckled into my ear just now by the ghost of a cat speaking with my feline psychic's voice. It seems she was far, far more powerful than I thought.

A partial catalog of Teknasyon's hits: Getcontact, iPaint, Photofont, Peaceful Sounds, Increase Pe- hold on, that one's an unrelated but very effective app on my phone. Ladies.

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It seems weird that Teknasyon has earned a single dollar off their idea of making worse versions of extremely free apps and charging huge amounts of money for them. Peaceful Sounds makes noises for the low cost of $48.99. I can't tell you if that's for a week or a month, because every time I open it, it only shows me a stock photo woman and the words "Please try again."

Ahh, nothing is more relaxing than a malfunctioning consumer product.

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Their paint program, iPaint, is a way, way below-average coloring book app that plays a 30-second ad every few seconds and costs $42.99 a year. Their answer to Instagram is Photofont, a clunky barrage of ads and poor design choices for $4.49 a week. Their entire business model is hoping you're currently stuffing $50 bills into someone's a*****e and daring you to do something dumber with your money. Teknasyon covered the app store in "GIVE $$$ TO TURKISH THIEVES" buttons, Google let them, and it worked! Fat-fingered idiots push them!

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Maybe the most amazing Teknasyon app is Getcontact, which sells itself as a way to prevent spam calls, and I'm not sure you will believe me when I explain how it works. You pay $289 a year and give them your phone number and contacts. Then you share with these trustworthy Turkish men every incoming call you get, while other users do the same thing. The idea is that if everyone is getting calls from the same number, it gets flagged as a likely telemarketer. Then you slowly die as every possible number combination gets flagged while a business famous only for incompetence and swindling promises not to sell or lose your personal information -- a thing that happened immediately, almost as if by design. If you hired a serial toilet licker to scream whenever someone in your home has their mouth on a toilet, he would ask you what kind of backwards logic led to you install Getcontact on your phone during his very first lunch break.

"Maybe app that add subtracts the numerals? For twen- no ... forty USA dollars a month." -- Teknasyon's mission statement

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How Do You Fix This?

It's sometimes hard to draw the line between unethical behavior and criminal fraud. It's sort of like if I change my name to "His Wife," I know I'm legally allowed to withdraw money from any married man's joint checking account, but should I? A lot of what Teknasyon does isn't technically a crime. You can hire all of Uganda to download your weather app to put it at the top of the "Popular Apps" chart, and you caaan start 8,000 accounts to give it five-star reviews, and you caaaan charge $300 a year exclusively to users who can never remember which button is the one to get pictures of their grandkids. Google has made all this very clear.

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But every few dollars you make this way comes with the threat of a lawsuit, or at least a complaint. And even the shittiest of automated moderation software will eventually notice if your scams are loud enough. Unfortunately, Google spent $3.9 billion on AI research, and if you sold Skitlles-brand spider eggs in a bright candy wrapper, they would mindlessly promote your product until at least 300 kids were hollowed out from the inside.

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Related: 5 Reasons You Should Be Scared Of Google

4
Exploiting The Desperate, Helpless, And Troubled

The Play Store grift everyone is familiar with is making a game just good enough to get players addicted, then charging them outrageous amounts of money to play. It's hard to pull off and becoming less and less legal, but the nice thing about this plan is that there is no upper limit to how stupidly game addicts give away their money. Some sad a*****e spent $2 million on Modern War, a Clash Of Clans knockoff so generic it lists its own genre as "GRAPHIC MILITARY GAME." It's tragic, but one of the things that makes America great is that if you're dumb enough, no one gives a f**k how hard you ruin your own life.

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Speaking of America, I have Marvel Strike Force on my phone, and today it offered me the chance to make Captain America's shield 5% better for $139.96. See, it uses a pretty standard mobile game economy, and Captain America needs 200 Tier 4 Balls to upgrade his Passive Block to Level 5, and a bundle of 50 Tier 4 Balls cost $34.99 (LIMITED-TIME OFFER). That might sound complicated, so let me try explaining it like this: After 20 more people try to punch my Captain America, one of those pussies is going to hit the shield and I'll know exactly how much happiness $139.96 buys. Put a price on that, science. Oh, you can't? You're confused? Oh, we're both confused!? In America we call that winning, buddy.

My accountant had some objections, but let's see that fussy b***h try to hit my Cap.

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I want to make it clear that these aren't funny joke amounts of money and sarcastic Photoshopping. I'm being serious and accurate when I say that in this hit game for children of all ages, a fully powered character costs a little over 2,800 American dollars. That's the real cost of an imaginary Spider-Man on your phone. It would literally be less expensive to book Tobey Maguire to FaceTime you during an "anything goes" arrangement with seven medium-quality prostitutes. "Looks like quite the party!" the acclaimed star might say while 13 bare hands and one wrist brace paw at you. "Oh hey, Chiffon! Hi Bunny! How's the carpal tunnel, Fuckmaster Beth?" he might add.

"Now get to work, pal! I've got a Make-A-Wish thing in 10, and I better not bring these full balls!"

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In this emotional-disorder-exploiting scheme that will probably never be fully criminalized, Marvel Strike Force and games like it have priced things so high that you either desperately mortgage your house or you shouldn't bother spending at all. One of MSF's main modes, "Fear the Darkness," is so impossible that after six months, only 13 players had beaten it. Thirteen. This is an app featuring the most popular characters in the history of fiction made by an award-winning game studio backed by the world's largest media company, and one of its main features was developed exclusively for a single van's worth of nerds with poor impulse control. For the money they invested, those 13 dorks could have each hired their own studio to make a game in which their ex-wives said they were good with money and they're allowed to see their children.

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How Do You Fix This?

There's a lot of blame to go around when someone bankrupts himself to upgrade his Captain America. The developers who wanted exactly that to happen? Yes. The poor bastard who can't control himself? Of course. The lawmakers in the pocket of Big Money? Sure. But you know who absolutely knows whether you can afford $80,000 worth of Marvel Strike Force? Google. My tablet has figured out how to notify me when I've double-booked an editorial meeting and a Tobey Maguire tele-orgy. You'd think it could handle telling me when I'm spending my mortgage money on Thor hats.

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Related: A Rough Draft Of Google's Plan For World Domination

3
Joy Same Fun Copy

The App Store is an endless assembly line of copycat games. There are so many knockoffs produced every day that the sharpest minds in tech took one look and immediately decided to never bother trying to stop them. Could they? Should they? Like, if Disney ever decides to take legal action against Flying Spider Hero City Rescue Story or Spider Hero Gangster Crime 3D or Rope Frog Ninja Hero Strange Gangster Vegas -- all real games I found in the Google App Store when searching for "Spider-Man" -- does all the blame fall on the people who made them?

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Does anyone at Google get in trouble? Is there a manager screaming, "Who THE f**k let this happen!? This 'Rope Frog Ninja Hero?' Um, did none of you notice he was just a green Spider-Man!? Disney paid $4 billion for that character, but oh, it turns out here at Google we'll license him to goddamn Suk Larry Hong Pleasing Apps for free! For nothing!"

"Look at all of them! You're telling me in this sprawling compound of nerds, not a single one of you knows what a Spider-Man is!?"

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In the video game industry, it seems almost silly to point out intellectual property theft. We all know everyone copies everything, and it takes extraordinary circumstances for anyone to care. After Bethesda hired Behaviour Interactive to make Fallout Shelter, Behaviour glued cowboy hats to all the characters, did nothing else, and released the same game as Westworld. And they probably would have gotten away with it if a few obvious bugs hadn't revealed they reused the proprietary code. It's like when you make a sex doll out of your friend's wife, and there's nothing the cops can really do about it until they find her actual skeleton inside the doll. What I'm saying is that "sex with your friend's dead wife" is how egregiously you have to commit crimes before you get in trouble with the Google Play Store.

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Google is financially incentivized to not notice knockoffs, so they will let any maniac take a s**t in their app store in the hopes someone will touch it and generate 18/100ths of a penny in ad revenue for them. Imagine if this bog of shovelware was a real store. If you walked into a retail outlet run this way, it would be nothing but milk-soaked old men exposing themselves to you in a swamp of knee-high garbage barge water. You wouldn't buy anything, but it wouldn't matter. "We get life just from you looking at us," one of them would hiss, his dong sliding across a moldy stack of photocopied fitness magazines marked FREE TRIAL.

Shots from Star Ship Laser Wars, the Google Play Store's take on Star Wars, in which you stand in space and shoot a non-moving TIE fighter with a handgun until it explodes. There is no lose condition, it requires access to your location and camera, and it plays an ad every ten seconds. Five stars.

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One way to tell the quality of the store you're shopping in is counting the number of off-brand Batmans in the toy aisle. If the store only has the one true Batman, you're in good shape. If there are three different Batmans and one of them is on a team with Shrek and RoboCop, the store's return policy is going to be pulling a knife. If you're looking at five different Batmans, at least one should be considered a memorial to the deceased toddler who made it. 100% of that purchase will go toward supporting baby slavery. Now consider that right now, Google is selling dozens, maybe hundreds of the wrong Batman. The plant that manufactures Charlie Sheen's condoms has better quality control than the Google Play Store.

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How Do You Fix This?

Google gets thousands of apps submitted to them every day, and like I mentioned, there's a certain amount of plagiarism expected in the games industry. We can't expect this poor tech giant to know how close Angry Duck Angry Chicken Knockdown is allowed to get to Angry Birds before it's illegal. And my word, it would take some kind of law genius to argue any similarities between Capcom's Mega Man and Mega The Man or Mega Hero City by CAPGUM -- two very real games Google shows you when you search for "Mega Man."

Screenshot from Mega Hero City. I haven't played Mega The Man since it crashes when you don't give it access to your photos.

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So let's give Google the benefit of the doubt and say the s**t is coming in too fast and too clever for today's technology to check for copyright violations or intellectual theft. I guess we can't do anything about this one. On the other hand, right now there's a guy in a Branson, Missouri sanitation plant getting paid $13 an hour who somehow figured out how to remove all the diapers from the recycling waste. Are you telling me Google can't afford to retrain a Branson, Missouri sanitation worker to spot blue Hulks and birth-defect Mega Men in their App Store? Psh. Ridiculous.

Related: Google's Screen Snooper Alert Software Has Dark Potential

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2
Single-Use Ad Grenades

Google estimates the Android user base is over two billion people. So a lot of developers figure there's no reason to create something useful or entertaining. All they need is for enough people to start their app once and generate an ad impression before it gets thrown in the trash forever. This is a terrible way to make money for everyone except Google, who seems very content making two billion people confused and unhappy for 30% of two billion ad impressions.

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It's hard to get mad at them for that, since I'm about to do it right now for free. A puppy and a set of little mittens cost $1.10 together. The puppy costs $1 more than the mittens. Why did God let the puppy understand what was happening when its owner broke his neck in the shower and had to wait for starvation to take him?

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Back to what I was saying. Thousands and thousands of moon-brained fucks are stapling together wads of human hair, calling it whatever they want, and uploading the results to the app store. Google proudly features this trash right next to whatever existing apps they're knocking off, or even apps with the exact same name. If you're a consumer trying to download the game The Floor Is Lava, here's what that looks like:

Which of the 71 games exactly named "The Floor Is Lava" should you try? Giggle! Why, ALL of them, silly!

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A company called Vipertechno currently has ten apps on the Google Play Store, and no one would ever turn one on a second time. One of them is called Watch IPL Live Cricket Score, and all it does is slowly load a browser next to a banner ad and search "cricket scores" for you. Learn ABC does nothing more than press play on an 11-minute video of someone writing the alphabet, and the goddamn video controls don't work. Their terrible Flappy Bird clone is called Idiot Bird For Kids, and it's so far removed from fun that I'm certain it was only designed to prove a mental disability to the Social Security Administration.

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They are one of thousands of companies exactly like this, and the most innovative tech company in the world saw all of them and said, "We'd love to feature your fine work in the official store that bears our name!"

"If you're looking for fun, be on the other side of this hole any Thursday at 9!" -- Rusty "The Mouth" Creamer, a man with higher standards than the Google Play Store

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How Do You Fix This?

Thanks to the invention of quality control in 1920, when you open a tube of toothpaste, you can be nearly certain it isn't filled with Bangladeshi diarrhea. The exact opposite is true in the Google Play Store. Ratings are easily gamed, so every app has four out of five stars. No one checks to see if you lied in your "description," so every app is an amazing, popular sensation. Consumer markets, in every other facet of human life, have the ability to make sure a product is sort of OK before it gets sold to customers. And yet Google, with all its resources, can't live up to the standards of a 1920 Bangladeshi toothpaste factory. Downloading a random app on an Android is like reaching into a cow's a*****e in the hopes it recently ate a wristwatch.

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Please remember that in this sea of untreated sewage, you can sometimes find the good kind of crazy. Like with a company called TenAppsAndGames, which lets you give sonograms to dogs in dog pregnancy surgery 2, or talk to pizza on the phone with fake pizza call game 2. That might not sound right, and it's possible I've misunderstood something, but the description very clearly says "simulate incoming call from pizza."

And speaking of pizza, a developer called build mobile keeps re-releasing the same three apps with slightly changed names: 100+ Pizza Recipes, Teach Autistic Children, and Remove Penis Hair. Power User Tip: If it's your first penis, you'll want to try Remove Penis Hair 2019 NEW VIP before you move on to Remove Penis Hair 2020. Unless you want to remove far more than just penis hair. They also have an app teaching you how to concentrate (something they seem almost uniquely great at), and a few on how to win a street fight, which adds a fun element of danger to making fun of them. Here's one tiny section of their catalog:

To be very clear: Google's algorithm can't tell whether someone releasing five different versions of the same dick-shaving PDF as an app might be crazy.

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Related: 7 Times Google Maps Straight Up Ruined People's Lives

1
Tricking Parents And Kids

Content rating systems have always been a little problematic, especially when they're automated. For example, if you're not logged into your Cracked profile, our word filter might make the phrase "clearly fucked jello" far more confusing than I intended.

I'd like to solve the puzzle.
LAUNDRY. EATING. JESUS.

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Google has algorithms that know when you're in the market for a horny married woman in your neighborhood, but it doesn't use any of them to automate its content ratings. Instead they let app developers fill out their own questionnaire. Think about that. We all know 99% of the people developing apps for their store are incompetent con artists with nothing but contempt for the human race, and Google's f*****g s**t-brained idea for content ratings was the honor system. That's like letting Donald Trump decide which color his tenants should be.

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As you might expect, letting the evil and stupid regulate themselves has led to a whole lot of splattery murder games being rated as safe for kids. You probably don't care, since if you're raising a child under the age of ten today, they'll be battling ocean slavers for the last patches of wasteland long before they've had a chance to grow up. So maybe it's good that Google is helping companies like Rich apps and games sell children titles like Knives weapon simulator, which lets users of all ages pretend to stab a knife and does not include an additional feature. Here's a screenshot of it, along with the two top (very real) user reviews:

"hello i am frequent murderer and this app does not include look in eyes when victim realize they being hunted. you have lost a customer one star."

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Weirdly enough, after giving Knives weapon simulator an "E for Everyone" rating, the company rated their own Vision drunk man as "M for Mature." I guess they figured kids weren't ready for a blurry phone screen. I thought for a minute that Google's amazing algorithms flagged alcohol-related apps as inappropriate for children, but then I found an identical app called Drunken View Camera Simulator rated "E." I doubt making a kid's phone blurry is going to do any real damage to their development, but I think it could really f**k up a generation if we raise them to think they can make a living on the app store reinventing stupid-ass pet rocks over and over while Google takes a third of the money generated by their four ad impressions.

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How Do You Fix This?

When you're downloading apps for children, it's already obvious which ones are appropriate. Even if Google wanted to help, you have your own standards for how many titties and throwing stars your kid can handle. Besides, the problem with kid apps isn't their own content; it's the content of the ads they see. You might think you're getting a fun coloring book and find out it's a single giraffe surrounded by unrelated offers for edible panties. You know what toddlers choose when there's an adorable giraffe waiting to be colored and banner ads for garage doors and Viagra? Garage doors and Viagra every time. The click-through rate on dildo ads is easily 100% for babies.

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And it's not like there's a vibrant enthusiast press for giraffe coloring book apps where you can go read reviews to see which one is farming baby dildo clicks for Google AdSense. And don't tell me this is my fault and I need to stop searching for dildos on my daughter's devices. Creating plausible explanations for how dildos arrive at our home is exactly why I bought my little girl a tablet! My point is that I shouldn't have the moral authority to lecture Google about anything, and yet I'm here explaining to them, as if they were a dumb child, that having any kind of ratings system on their store is pointless as long as they have the thing directly attached to the spurting butthole of humanity.

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Seanbaby invented being funny on the Internet. Watch him accidentally type "dildos memorial day sale" in the wrong text field on Twitter, or play his critically acclaimed mobile game Calculords.

For more, check out The 5 Most Seemingly Sinister Google Behaviors:


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