Apple responds to Dash controversy with proof

Controversy erupted last week when Apple cancelled the account of a popular developer app called Dash. Apple told the developer “they found evidence of App Store review manipulation,” an accusation the developer denied, but Apple has proof.

Apple’s anti-fraud team has apparently been working with the developer for some time to stop fraudulent positive reviews, and negative reviews on competitors accounts. According to Apple, all attempts to work with the developer have failed, resulting in the account being terminated.

“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,” Apple spokesperson, Tom Neumayr, said in a statement provided to The Loop on Monday. “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.”

It’s really important to note that this has been going on for quite some time—it’s not a quick decision that Apple made on the spur of the moment last week. In fact, a warning was first sent to the developer two years ago, but the behavior did not change.

The integrity of the App Store is as important to Apple as it is to consumers. When you read a review on the store, you want to know that it’s real. In some cases, they can be the deciding factor on which app you purchase and download.

This is part of the reason we trust Apple and the App Store. They found inconsistencies in a developers account, tried to work with them to resolve the issue, and took decisive action to protect developers and customers when their attempts failed.

It seems to me Apple has given the developer every opportunity to change the behavior that started this whole mess. I don’t think we can ask any more from Apple in these types of situations. App Store fraud cannot be tolerated.

  • komocode

    yet FDG Entertainment has been buying app reviews for their apps for the past couple of years. shouldn’t they be terminated too?

    • Shawn

      Send proof to Apple

      • komocode

        they already have all of the proof.

        • foljs

          Or so you say

    • Maybe they’re already working on that one too.

    • AP Mustard

      Are they paying for legitimate feedback from individuals, or for en-masse astroturfing from a single account?

      • komocode

        the reviews aren’t legitimate at all. some of the reviews says that these games “saved their marriage” and “cured depression” which they go into a 500-word essay on why that is.

        • AP Mustard

          So just to be clear, your official position is that software doesn’t have the power to help treat mental illness and improve interpersonal relationships?

          • komocode

            My official position is: A free sniper game on the App Store that has more than a quarter million of 4-5 star written reviews that averages 250-500 words which discusses how it can cure mental illness and improve marriages and that are written by authors with gibberish names such as “Hhdyhstshcjbotex” is likely to have illegitimate/paid reviews.

          • AP Mustard

            Sniping apps are very effective among people who don’t have time to come up with a username.

          • komocode

            if you think these are legitimate reviews, then you need to do some research.

          • tomclarke

            I know dozens of marriages that have been saved by sniping games. Dozens.

  • This is all rather intriguing. The narrative when the story broke was that Apple had “just gone and done” this, with no warning or contact to/with the developer.

    Didn’t the developer even say that specifically? How on earth did they think the truth would not come to light?

    • codedungeon

      Well, I don’t think Apple would speak out defending themselves if they didn’t have proof from their end. My feeling is the developer didn’t share the whole story

      • Absolutely agree (edited my original post to make a bit more sense). 😊

      • rick gregory
        • Wow.

        • Bill_the_binman

          The Apple representative seems very reasonable. Clearly trying to be helpful.

        • Rory Griffin

          Apple’s lack of contacting the ORIGINAL account (not the one that was linked, the fake account, which they did contact) is proof that Apple did act wrongly.

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    • Pete Austin

      There were two developers that Apple treated as linked. They never warned the “good” guy who wrote Dash, only the other one. Read the details here:

    • Rory Griffin

      According to the conversation here:

      We can listen to the phone call and we discover the ORIGINAL account was NEVER contacted, while the supposed “linked account” was. They didn’t contact the guy IN QUESTION, but someone else.

      IE: if someone did something in YOUR NAME, Apple can clearly contact that person who used your name, and shut down your account without any warning. They obviously don’t want to fix fraud, they want to squash developers who have better tools than they. Otherwise they would have contacted BOTH accounts.

      • With you right up until the “obviously” part.

        That’s a huge leap from actual facts that show Apple made a mistake here, to a wild conspiracy about Apple’s motives.

  • Chip Warden

    What proof? It’s still an “Apple says; Kapeli says” problem as far as I can tell.

    • Pseudo Strabismus

      I sure hope we do NOT get into an environment where Apple trashes a developer, even a suspect one, in the press. Dash/Kapeli could easily enough release Apple from any liability by asking them to show the “evidence” against him—maybe IPs on reviews or similar?—but even then I’d hope this could be resolved in a way that devs don’t fear a powerful Apple slandering them.

      • freediverx

        Apple didn’t bring this to the public. The developer did, while lying about the reason and shaming Apple.

        He got what he deserved.

        • GD

          Check with the origin this is not a “he got what he deserved”. The developer gave old hardware to a relative and taught them how to develop apps. The cousin turned around and used the devices in what apple deemed a malicious manner. BUT apple only contacted the malicious account holder NOT the account which they also terminated which they incessantly repeated that was “linked” to it. Apple is slightly at fault for not contacting all parties which were involved.

          • Joost Dikker Hupkes

            I’m sure Apple made contact via information provided by the developer. It is his responsibility to ensure this info is correct.

            Even if he ‘gave’ his hardware to a relative and allowed him/her to use the developer account, he is still responsible for actions taken by that account.

            Personally I think the cousin story sounds like a very convenient lie. (Sounds, I obviously don’t know)

          • Tom_P

            So when “you” let someone else using “your” account, you don’t have to be responsible for it?

          • Richard Flapper

            True, but even then, I mean, if you’ve helped your cousin with his setup and this cousin gets “spammed” by Apple for two years, I mean, don’t they talk to each other? I talk to random developers if I’m faced with a technical problem. If I have a cousin in the same business as mine, I would for sure talk to him once in a two year-span period. And if this cousin is spammed by Apple wouldn’t this cousin mention this at least once?? This whole story reeks a bit to “my dog ate my homework, Sir”.

    • tccki

      Assuming Loop is being truthful, I’d say a multi-billion dollar company releasing a formal statement is about as much proof as one can reasonably expect.

      • Chip Warden

        What formal statement? I see no link to a statement from Apple.

        • tccki

          It’s in the article.

    • Apple has no obligation to publish the findings of their investigation. it also serves no purpose; if they know this guy was fraudulent then they took the correct action. they don’t need to convince people on blogs…and doing so may reveal how their fraud system works.

      i trust apple more than randoms.

      • Chip Warden

        If they want developers and users to have faith in their App Store system, I believe they should be as transparent as possible in any system that can result in a developer being banned from continuing to support paid apps.

        • John Brave

          in fraud detection systems you can never reveal all your secrets and still maintain the effectiveness of such a system. If Apple revealed how they detect the fraud, fraudsters would make sure to avoid every method.

          As someone who runs a site with customer reviews, I have a bunch of secret methods for detecting users with multiple accounts.

          Once I made the mistake of hinting to somebody about one of the methods and sure enough, they learned to not make that mistake. I could tell because that particular method didn’t work anymore on its own. Other methods revealed that this one was being avoided.

          So, such systems really rely on secrecy. Apple would be stupid to be ‘as transparent as possible’.

        • freediverx

          Me thinks thou protest too much. Perhaps you’re also an ethically challenged app developer?

    • GlennC777

      Apple really has no incentive to lie. Quite the opposite, since this is a popular developer who brings App Store revenues.

      • Chip Warden

        And they have lots of courage, too.

        • Joost Dikker Hupkes

          Imagine what they could do with that courage…

    • codedungeon

      I am sure Apple has proof. And speaking out publicly, it would be in their best interest to NOT lie. The fact that this story even got a response from Apple, leads me to believe Apple has proof

      • Chip Warden

        How can they be possibly be caught in a lie? They control all the information supporting their position. I’m not saying it is not their right to run their App Stores any way they want; I’m just saying doing so is somewhat shady.

        • Chip Warden

          I guess a recorded phone call would do it. Good for Kapeli.

          • Richard Flapper

            What about the authenticity of the phone call? What if his cousin is the pretended Apple employee? I guess a recorded phone call is as good as no evidence in this case.

          • Travis Romero

            Is it legal for him to record the call?

          • Rory Griffin

            Are you seriously asking? I record calls all the time, of course it’s legal. If it weren’t, I’d be worried about something far worse than Apple making a mistake.

          • Travis Romero

            California’s wiretapping law is a “two-party consent” law. It’s illegal to record a call unless both people agree.

      • Rory Griffin

        It is always in everyone who is making money’s interest to not lie. Mistakes can be made.

        If your neighbor was pretending to be you at the election booth because they want their guy to win, do you thus get two votes, or only one? Is the other not you? If they contact your neighbor but not you, then YOU get punished, isn’t that wrong?

        Someone has done one over on Apple, and this guy is paying the price.

  • Great info, is there a source on this? Did Apple reach out to the Loop directly?

    • foljs

      (…) Apple spokesperson, Tom Neumayr, said in a statement provided to The Loop on Monday.

  • Patrick Barnes

    This isn’t proof.

    Anyone could do this to anyone else’s app and have it taken down.

    Proof is IPs and logs.

    • why would apple surrender such evidence to you? or me? we’re not involved.

    • gcreedle

      Yes but if Apple were communicating with him for two years, he had plenty of opportunity to plead his case, or suggest who was doing this to him

  • David Stewart

    This was always the most rational and likely situation. It is interesting that so many people, so many developers, were so willing to lay 100% of the blame at the feet of Apple.

    • as usual. everyone is an armchair executive these days.

    • rience
      • David Stewart

        That lines up with what i would expect. This was the last step in a long process. Apple is now giving the Dash developer an easy way to get his account back. Seems appropriate to me.

        • rience

          If only they didn’t accuse him in public first. Imagine if he didn’t have this recording. It’ll be his word against Apple.

          • Apple wasn’t first. We only know about this whole sordid tale because the dev posted it on his blog and a lot of other devs read his blog. Apple’s statement was a response because the dev put them in an awkward position.

  • GlennC777

    My presumption was always that Apple had its reasons. The developer’s story seemed fishy from the beginning. Glad to see Apple address the controversy directly.

  • Dan Finlay

    So all you have to do to take an app off the app store is to hire a farm to give a lot of fake positive reviews? This seems like they’re opening a dangerous can of worms.

    • Seph

      It sounded like that in the beginning, but now the facts are more clear: He created several accounts with the same personal info. Developer confirmed this.

      So you’d need to steal the target developers legal information such as credit card info, bank account info, name, address, email, etc.

    • Mo

      Speaking as a user, if you’re a dev who’s hiring a review farm, I don’t want to see your app listed, no matter how good it is.

  • flydrive

    I recommend reading the latest blog post on the developer’s account and listening to the 8 minute recording of the phone call he had with Apple.

    You can draw your own conclusions about whether or not he knew his relative, for whom he set up the account, was buying/faking reviews. It’s unfortunate that having ‘linked’ the two accounts, Apple didn’t contact him in the months leading up to shutting down both of them so he could do something about it.

    This is now not going to get resolved.

    • Chip Warden

      So Apple lied about contacting Kapeli. Listen to the call: they admit it.

      • David Stewart

        How would Apple have known the two accounts which shared financial information and devices where different people? Apple said it contacted the developer, which it did.

        • Chip Warden

          If you’re going to cancel two accounts, it seems to me you’d contact both account holders. Apple did not, and admitted it on the recorded phone call.

          • David Stewart

            I agree that going forward it would be prudent for Apple to do that.

  • Matt Hickman

    Wow, what a great article that totally gave an objective view of what happened. for the other side. A warning was sent to an account not in control of the developer, not to the developer himself. Apple definitely dropped the ball by not notifying the primary Dash developer account.

    • Chip Warden

      Not just dropped the ball; they lied about contacting Kapeli. This reinforces that they need to be absolutely transparent when banning a developer from an App Store.

      • Where was the lie? They didn’t even mention Kapeli by name in the statement. They simply refer to “the developer”. Going from the phone call, the Apple rep repeatedly made it very clear they didn’t think that Kapeli had done anything wrong, but he repeatedly stated the fact that Kapeli’s account was linked (perhaps “associated” is a better term) to an account involved in fraudulent activity. From Apple’s point of view they can’t mess about with this. From Kapeli’s point of view it was naïve, at the very least, for him to be so involved with a developer account that he wasn’t going to have any overview or seemingly even any regular contact with. Assuming the best of Kapeli, he was silly not to have de-registered the devices he gave away to this other developer, and he left himself open to exactly this type of situation. It seems to me that Apple offered him a reasonable way to regain his developer account without any loss of face, but he instead chose to act wounded.

      • Mathias

        What on earth are you talking about? They said they contacted the developer. If both accounts shared the same device ID’s and CC, Apple had every reason to believe they had done so.

        I think Apple has done everything that can be reasonably expected, it’s not their fault that the twitter mob as usual jumps to conclusions and tries to paint Apple in the worst light possible.

        To me, the developer clearly screwed up. Not only that, he acts like a spoiled brat too.

  • Will Senn

    Apparently, Apple’s version of the truth is anecdotal, Kapeli’s is recorded conversations, who do you believe:

    • David Stewart

      The truth seems pretty clear. The developer was using an account that was linked to another account, even using the financial information, and that account was engaging in fraudulent activity. Apple followed their fraud mitigation processes and finally got to the step of closing the fraudulent account and all associated accounts. They have provided the developer a way to be reinstated if he wishes.

      • Will Senn

        Meanwhile, users of a very popular piece of software suffer while Apple insists on selectively applying their policy and not providing a simple resolution when presented with the problem. It looks like they at least recognize that this isn’t some fly by night app, but how blogging in response, rather than working with the developer to fix the underlying misunderstanding is a mystery.

        • David Stewart

          How is Apple selectively applying their policy? It seems the problem here is exactly the opposite, they applied their policy blindly, without deferring to this developer because his app is popular.

          They obviously are working with this developer, as the developer’s own phone recording demonstrates.

          • How is asking the developer to say that he was in the fault so that Apple looks good a solution? Apple screwed up. It appears clear that the linked account was the one which was notified about the fraudulent activity. The Dash developer does not appear to have known about any of this till Apple took down his account. Now Apple wants him to admit that he was in the wrong and then they’ll “magnanimously” restore his account? Looks like a clear case of Apple not wanting bad PR.

            How does Apple consider accounts as linked? Is a credit card number enough to link accounts even if the account details are different on two accounts? That would be one of the crucial points here.

            Also, how come Apple is not taking down accounts with large downloads which clearly have fake reviews? What is their rationale there?

            This just feels like a PR exercise on the part of Apple because their internal bureaucracy resulted in a screw up.

          • David Stewart

            They are simply asking him to explain the situation. He was funding an account that was engaging in fraudulent activity. Whether you consider that wrong doing or not, that seems to be the reality. Apple is simply asking him to explain that given that he made this whole thing public.

          • rience

            So the fact that they haven’t contacted him (on his developer account) before closing his account is ok?

          • Apple contacted the developer account that was the source of the fraudulent behaviour (not Kapeli’s) and then closed down the other accounts related to that developer (including Kapeli’s). His mistake was allowing himself to be connected to an account that he had no control over and was paying no attention to.

          • David Stewart

            I think in the future Apple probably will contact all related accounts. They didn’t have any way of knowing the two accounts were different people, though.

          • rience

            Sure because not getting responses from the only account they’ve contacted is not enough to try another email account. It’s BCC field. Right after To.

          • David Stewart

            I don’t think Apple wastes its time trying so hard to get in contact with fraudsters. Its far easier to simply shutter the fraudulent accounts.

          • rience

            Understandable. But then – don’t say they’ve done it right.

          • David Stewart

            You think they should coddle fraudsters?

          • rience

            Not exactly but for starters they might consider not lying in official public statement few days after they know 100% what has happened.

          • David Stewart

            I don’t see where Apple lied. They don’t seem to have known about this “relative.”

          • rience

            Recorded conversation happened on Saturday. Public statement was on Monday. I think this pretty clear shows us that they knew.

            Another question is – did developer sent them draft version of blog post or not? If yes – why didn’t they wait with statement on Monday?

          • David Stewart

            We have no way to know any of the facts as the only information we have is from interested parties. We also don’t know how who at Apple knows what about this case. From what Apple has said, there are at least two accounts tied to the Dash developer with fraudulent activity. Apple has given the developer a way to reinstate his account and he seems more interested in muddying Apple than getting his account back. Make of that what you will.

          • rience

            You’re saying that ‘Apple has given’. And yes – recording confirms that. But look at sequence of events (that we know of)

            1. On Saturday – developer is talking with Apple about sending draft version of blog post to Apple. And Apple then says – that his developer account will be brought back.
            2. Then on Monday – Apple sends public statement saying that developer is fraudster. Note – they didn’t say what they’ve heard from developer. Just simply they said – he had two accounts. Without even saying that only one of them was involved in such activity.
            3. Only after that – developer decides to respond to those accusations. So it doesn’t look as ‘muddying’ for me.
          • David Stewart

            The developer says he sent a blog post draft to Apple, but if he is willing to post the call why not the draft? He did post again this morning essentially trying to rile up customers against Apple.

          • rience

            I don’t know why he didn’t post this ‘draft post’. Maybe he didn’t. What is certain is that Apple on Monday accused him of bad behaviour.

            I didn’t know about his post from this morning so I looked it up. I don’t know where you find this information that is is trying to rile up customers against Apple

            1) He said – show me receipt and I’ll send you license for Mac version. 2) He said – he can’t distribute iOS version so he is looking for fellow developers to put that under their account (as free app!)

            The only (slightly) aggressive statement he made was: “Due to Dash’s removal from the App Store, please note that you can no longer download the apps you paid for.”. Which is true.

          • David Stewart

            He has since linked to his draft blog post, which is good.

            The post today he puts “you can no longer download the apps you paid for” in bold, which, to me, indicated an attempt to build up animosity (as any affected user would already know this). I would imagine some further communication with Apple likely prompted this posting.

          • rience

            You’re right. He said that he send draft of blog post to Apple aproximately 30 min after conversation. So if that’s true – then it shows Apple in even worse light. Because now

            1) He gets call on Saturday. He is proposed a solution to a problem. 2) He agrees to solution – sends draft blog post to Apple 3) On Monday he is waking up to public accusation of bad behaviour.

          • Michael Utech

            David, that’s exactly the spirit of our age. You also don’t waste time in Guantanamo. Your assumption is that Apple has the quality of the Pope with a direct connection to an omnipotent information source. You are right, it is easier to do what you want instead of following a fair procedure. But as much as it’s easy, it is – or at least should be – illegal. Assumption is not enough to destroy somebodies business.

          • David Stewart

            Apple did follow what I would consider a fair procedure. They contacted the fraudulent account numerous times over the course of a couple of years, finally terminating the account when they got no response. The Dash account was caught up in this, which is unfortunate, but Apple has been working with the developer to get his main account reinstated. I’m not sure how it could get much more fair.

            Apple has to deal with large volumes of fraud, so they are not going to be absolutely perfect.

          • Michael Utech

            If both accounts trace back to one person, meaning if Bogdan is the owner of both accounts, then I would agree with you. But the phone recording clearly contradicts this position and I have a hard time to believe that this is forged.

            Reasonable procedure is – must be, since we are talking about money and reputation, pretty much the same as any court. You have to consider the facts, not assumptions or appearances and then decide based on that. That is proper procedure.

            Apple has to deal with large volumes of fraud, but also with large volumes or revenue and large pay checks. That should really not be an issue. If they can do it right, they shouldn’t do it. That’s the essence of Apple projected self image. Or at least it was.

          • David Stewart

            Both accounts did trace back to the same person. He created both accounts, paid for both accounts, allowed both accounts to use the same devices, same identifiers, and user information. We don’t know what the contact information for the other account was, but these were both his accounts. If he allowed someone to use his account to commit fraud then that’s at least partially on him. I think the facts of the case bear that out.

          • Michael Utech

            If there are two entities (people or companies) involved, then each is responsible for their own actions.

            Now if one person committed fraud as outlined by Apple, then this person’s account should of course be shut down, nothing to criticise about that.

            If another person (Bogdan) gave the former his CC data to create an account and gave him his old devices for testing, then this might or might not by itself be enough reason to terminate an account. But Apple should contact Bogdan and tell him that if you do that (CC & devices) your account will be terminated for that reason. They did not contact him and it also does not seem to be a reason for account termination if you do what Bogdan admitted to have done.

            If Bogdan gave his support in order to enable the other guy to do what he did, then of course this is also a good reason for an account termination, but I did not see any information that this is the case.

            On the other hand, if Apple knows that there is only one person, then everything they did is ok. But from all we know (especially from phone recording) this is not the case.

            I did not see any evidence yet that contradicts Bogdans story.

            If Apple has no proof that Bogdan is the fraudster or is knowingly cooperating in fraud then the account termination based on fraud is not justifiable.

            They can of course terminate his account for any other reason they find, for example publishing the phone call recording could be such reason, but that’s not what happened.

            Do you see my point?

          • David Stewart
          • Michael Utech

            Thanks for the link. That info certainly is changing the appearance. If Apple had these or similar information available their reaction would have been adequate.

            What I don’t understand is why they would not have mentioned it (as they mentioned the CC & devices). It would have strengthened their position a lot and would have prevented a lot of people – including me – from critizising their procedure.

          • Michael Utech

            They did not (at least not in public), basically because there are two accounts and according to Bodgan two people behind these accounts. There are also two contracts and each has to be terminated seperately.

            After working out … they reversed their position and got back to blaming Bogdan for both accounts. Not fair.

            Apple does not only have a large volume of fraud, they also have a large volume of revenue and a large number of employees. That’s really no valid argument.

            I am not expecting anybody to be perfect. If there was a mistake, it would be easy to correct it (reinstantiate the account if (and only if) Bodgan is not guilty for what he was blamed for and apologising – which would be in order if so). But that did not happen.

            One more thing: as long as Bogdan’s story is not contradicted by facts, we should not contribute in destructing his reputation. There is a reason why in every modern constitution people are protected from being treated guilty before the guilt is proven.

          • David Stewart
          • Michael Utech

            Try to get a developer account. Then you will change your mind about that, knowing that Apple very well knows your identity before allowing you to publish to the app store.

          • David Stewart

            I have a developer account… From what we know the accounts created shared most of the same information, including bundle IDs, financial information and possibly even user information.

          • Michael Utech

            When I got my DUNS ID, it was a major endeavour. I don’t believe you get two ID for the same company/person and also not two accounts for the same ID.

            But even if I would be wrong here (not sure you really need DUNS as an indie dev since I have a small company), in any case, Apple should have contacted Bogdan before terminating the account, if only to give him a chance to present his case. If they had enough time to keep the fraudulent account in store for two years, a couple of days would not really have had a huge impact.

            And last not least, the recorded phone call shows that Apple is now well aware of the two identities and still not willing to resolve the issue. Far from it, they fall back to their initial position.

            If they have evidence showing that Bogdan is in deed responsible and thus lying and they don’t want to reveal it to the public (f.e. to protect their investigators techniques) they could just say that and offer to resolve the case in court.

            Thing is, we all don’t know the facts and can only speculate. Thus we should at least consider the possibility that both parties are decent and truthy and not a priori condemn one side based only on the confidence in the more powerful institution. Apple employees are people, they make mistakes, and for some of them, their superiors just cover up if it’s less of a burden or otherwise opportune. I don’t know if that happened, but its just as likely as Bogdan creating one super popular high quality app, 24 trash apps, two accounts sharing the same CC and then earn money by writing bad reviews for some products and good ones for his trash apps. Just doesn’t sound like the kind of thing you do for a living when you are a good and rather successful programmer (he apparently is both).

          • David Stewart

            Apple gave the developer a way to get his account reinstated…

          • Michael Utech

            If you are referring to the phone call, then Bogdan send his draft (claims to have done) and the next thing we know happened was the statement of Apple on loop. They obviously changed their mind.

          • Will Senn

            Did you even bother listening to the recording? As Thom Holwerda, of OSNews says:

            In the recorded phone call, Apple admits that they never notified him at all, despite Apple’s claims to the contrary. Then, they tried to coerce Popescu into publicly admitting wrongdoing – even though he did nothing wrong. After Popescu told Apple he was not going to do that, Apple tells him that he can tell the truth, but that Apple wants to approve the story before posting it. Popescu complies, sends in the story – and a few days later, Apple sends in its blogger army, by falsely accusing Popescu of manipulating App Store reviews.

        • I think you mean… “Meanwhile, users of a very popular piece of software suffer while the developer insists on publicly bitching instead of taking a simple resolution when it was presented to him. It looks disingenuous at least to pretend that a developer account that he paid for and uses devices registered to him isn’t anything to do with him, but how blogging in response, rather than simply explaining the underlying misunderstanding is a mystery.”

      • Will Senn

        On a further review of this it seems clear to me that Apple’s policy is about as developer unfriendly as it gets. If someone manages to link to your account via identity theft, they don’t even bother notifying you (by their own admission) that fraudulent activity is taking place on a “linked” account. They just notify the linked account, until it reaches a certain threshold, and then they kill the linked account and the developer account. In this case, the developer was involved in the linkage originally, but that needn’t have been the case. Either way, the developer is asked by Apple to “take the blame”. Meanwhile, Apple want’s to be sure that readers know that they have not “made a mistake”. Sheesh, Kapeli is reasonable in the tape, so is the Apple representative aside from his talking down to the developer as he tries to process this difficult information, but at the end of the day, they chose to not honor the agreement they made with him and put him through the ringer on the blogs rather than just terminating the linked account and going after that person while putting Kapeli on notice. Strong arm tactics of the worst sort coming from a company that I have high regard for normally. Disappointing.

        • David Stewart

          There is no evidence simple identity theft would end in this result. In this case the developer was paying for the fraudulent accounts and quite possibly was benefiting financially from the fraud. Blame Apple if you want, but you seem to be accepting everything the developer says at face value and distrusting everything Apple says. I’m not sure that’s the way to arrive at an objective opinion.

          • Will Senn


            You sound like an Apple Troll. Seriously, simple identity theft? What is that? If someone links to your account using your credit card information, how is that different than what happened to the developer hear. I don’t take anyone at face value, however, we have access to the recorded call between the developer and an Apple support rep as evidence.

          • David Stewart

            It sounds like in this case it was a preponderance of evidence, credit card, possibly bank account, devices, IDs, etc. It would be easier for someone to hack your account than establish all those linkages.

            New evidence suggest that the developer is behind both accounts.

  • freediverx

    And the scumbag developer had the gall to publicly complain and deny any wrongdoing. The Donald Trump of app developers.

  • Jim Strathmeyer

    It seems to me Apple has given the developer every opportunity to change the behavior that started this whole mess. I don’t think we can ask any more from Apple in these types of situations. App Store fraud cannot be tolerated.

    It seems to me I know a really easy way to get an app removed from the app store. Competitors come to me first, or else it could be your store that is removed!

    Apple is given every opportunity to acknowledge their problems and fix them, but they always blame their troubles on others. Can’t complain when you end up in the crosshairs of a company whose entire business seems based upon fraud, like convincing everyone that a guy who died of a curable cancer was somehow a genius.

    • Not only did they give him the opportunity, they gave him explicit instructions of what to do. He even recorded Apple giving those instructions.

  • In the interview and phone call you can clearly listen how Apple states that the warnings were given to the account of the person infringing the rules, NOT to the developer:

    Which totally contradicts the statement quoted here.

    • Richard Flapper

      Nonetheless, they are relatives and they engage in business with each other (even though it’s only by a shared/linked account and him giving hardware of his to his cousin). There’s absolutely no conversation with him and his cousin that remotely touches the subject of the cousin being “harassed” by Apple? I mean, if they were total strangers I would buy the story but as it stands now, this whole story sounds a bit fishy.

      • Michael Utech

        If you, just for a moment, assume that Bodgan is not what Apple implied he was. If you are the one trying to earn easy money by pushing your apps in abusive ways, then you get into trouble with Apple. Would you tell the guy? Maybe. But I can just as well imagine that this guy wouldn’t want to admit what he’s doing, especially not if he’s doing it with his relative’s credit card.

        And even if Bogdan knew about it, that doesn’t mean that he is responsible for his relatives actions and certainly not that he is obliged (neither morally nor legally) to help Apple persecute the thing. It’s also (and quite obviously) not evident for Bogdan that their accounts are linked.

    • David Stewart

      How would Apple have known the two accounts weren’t the same person?

      • Michael Utech

        Try to get two DUNS identification numbers. Try harder.

        Then try to get two different credit cards.

        Then decide what was more effort and whether getting a DUNS ID is so much fun that you still want to go through it.

    • Mathias

      No it doesn’t. If the two accounts share device ID’s and CC, Apple had every reason to believe that they had contacted “the developer”.

      To me, this is clearly on the developer. Plus, he’s acting like an entitled, spoiled brat.

      • Michael Utech

        No, not every reason. They have two separate DUNS identification numbers. You can probably somehow forge that, but that would be a so much more substantial effort than not to use the same credit card. It’s reliable enough for Apple to let you create an account with which you can publish to the AppStore, a credit card is not sufficient. These DUNS ID’s verify that there are two separate legal entities with whom Apple has contracts. If they violate the terms and conditions, Apple terminates their contracts, maybe even asks for compensation. On the other hand, Apple did not even respect their own procedures enough to – for a moment – thing about the possibility that their assumptions about the respective identities are really valid. They simply don’t care. That sounds more like the spoiled brat kind of attitude you see on the other side.

        The question should be whether it’s objectively on the developer or on Apple, what everybody feels like about that is largely irrelevant if a persons and a companies reputations and revenues are at stake (whatever you value more).

  • Pete Austin

    “What I’ve done: 3-4 years ago I helped a relative get started by paying for her Apple’s Developer Program Membership using my credit card. I also handed her test hardware that I no longer needed. From then on those accounts were linked in the eyes of Apple. Once that account was involved with review manipulation, my account was closed.

    I was not aware my account was linked to another until Apple contacted me Friday, 2 days after closing my account. I was never notified of any kind of wrongdoing before my account was terminated.”

  • oliversl

    Well, there are more info and it seems Apple acted on an account, and not on a person. Maybe they wanted to use this case as an example or a warning. But that poor developer was hurt.

  • michaelamie

    You guys arguing about “proof” are hilarious. Who gives a flying leap about “review fraud” when you are missing the big picture that this is the BS end game of these kinds of walled garden corporate ecosystems with draconian distribution policies.

    Personally, I don’t need Apple making all of these decisions for me. Fake reviews or not, I just like using this app. I don’t need 10,000 other people to tell me whether it sucks or not or to reaffirm my taste in smart phone applications. It’s almost like the old-skool shareware / demo-ware model is actually better than trusting random reviewers from shitty monolithic app stores run by mega-corporations. I guess the “social” “web 2.0” really does know best, doesn’t it? What would we ever do without canned, corporate-approved social interactions like review systems, likes, and retweet buttons.

    Don’t worry, I’m sure we will get plenty more useless “disruptive” social media and sharing economy apps designed by boring corporations that meet Apple’s standards. The anti-problem future is looking bright as ever, and I simply cannot wait to see what the Ivy-League techno-utopianists from the promised land of neo-liberal / late capitalist social-darwinism bring us next.

  • Michael Utech

    This statement from Tom Neumayr insists on the assumption that there is one entity with two accounts who committed fraudulent behaviour.

    The evidence for this is the shared use of a credit card and devices.

    Evidence for the other side are two different DUNS identifications, which are sufficiently reliable to be accepted as proof of identity for Apple to create an account.

    Bogdan’s explanation regarding his relative sounds plausible. Much more plausible than Tom’s explanation, regarding “this developer” with two accounts.

    Why would one person go through the hassle to forge documents required for the DUNS registration and then use the same credit card for two accounts which would have a completely different purpose? Why would he create one quality app and 24 trash apps? That’s certainly possible but not at all plausible.

    Apple chose to communicate with one account over an extended period of time warning them about the abusive behaviour before closing both accounts, even though these are (from all I read) legally unrelated.

    The Apple employee in charge of the termination of the account is probably overworked and underpaid but proud to have an Apple on his t-shirt. It was probably obvious to them that the accounts are forged and they would rather close a ticket than to go through the unpleasant discussions following another verification call or mail. In most cases, this is probably adequate, however here it seems like the termination was not appropriate and if so, Bogdan suffered damages regarding his business and his reputation. I really don’t see how he would be responsible for his relatives behaviour (just assuming that neither Apple nor the Developer plainly lied, because statements from both sides are plausible, much more than one side lying in this scenario).

    With great power comes – contrary to Hollywood – not great responsibility, but rather a comfortable feeling of who cares for the consequences of my decision if somebody else has to suffer them.

    I find this article has a rather propagandistic smell to it.

    • Michael Utech

      Propagandistic because: – “Apple responds … with proof” – No, it’s just a statement. Proof has to be verifiable, everything that’s given in this article lacks this feature. – “Apple has given the developer every opportunity” – No. This would be true only as long as you presume that Bogdan was responsible for the “whole mess”. – “the behavior that started this whole mess” which is what you expressively do.

      But presumptions are neither valuable proof nor any basis on which you rightfully can terminate someone’s business or attempt to destroy a persons reputation by claiming that they are responsible for abusive behaviour.

      • “App Store fraud cannot be tolerated” – I am certain that nobody, except for those committing it want fraud to be tolerated. But that is not what the vast majority of people arguing for Bogdan have in mind.

      This cheap shots are just insulting…

    • nht

      Given that folks have found evidence that he wrote those trash apps and then buried that past in a secondary account I’m guessing that Apple figured it out as well.

      The terse statement that Apple wanted was in his best interest and avoided any admission of guilt. It had the beauty of sounding like it was a statement by a lawyer and less likely make folks go digging into his past.

      Attempting to spin this dubious story of being such a great fella gifting an account to a relative in his blog draft was probably the final straw for Apple.

      It’s seems clear from the waybackmachine that he wrote moveAddict, iGuard and Dash as they were promoted on his website as his products.

      • Michael Utech

        “Given that folks have found evidence..” – I do not know anything about anybody (who is folks?) who found such evidence.

        If Bogdan is in deed the same guy responsible for Dash and the fraud discovered by Apple, then of course he is to blame.

        If Apple knew that all along and just was nice enough to pretend (to Bogdan on the phone) that they don’t know about it, then their public communication is misleading (to their own disadvantage), because that exact detail would make all the difference.

        If on the other hand Apple did not have clues other than the CC and devices that were mentioned by now, this does not contradict Bogdan’s explanation and would not justify a shutdown of his account (at least in my opinion, I’m not a lawyer). Especially the cold break after the phone call leading to the statement published here is not understandable and without other information does not shed a good light on Apples procedures.

        I did not read anything about this evidence yet. Can you give me a reference so that we can remove a few “if’s and would’s” from this discussion?

        • nht
          • Michael Utech

            With that information available it becomes really hard to take sides with Bogdan. It is excessively silly of Bogdan to have published these blog/twitter posts given that he is at least much more involved in the other accounts than just having provided a payment method and test devices. Even if he wasn’t involved in fraud, which is increasingly difficult to believe, telling only part of his involvement and covering up the rest if it’s so easy to reveal the information is really embarassing.

            This turn of events really surprised me. Recalling the phone conversation, I have to admit that Apple behaved much more constructively than I would have in such a situation (assuming that Apple had similar information available). I just don’t understand why they didn’t reveal the information as they revealed the link via CC and devices.

          • nht

            High road I guess.

            Also, it is possible he sold/gifted all his old apps to his cousin but it’s somewhat obvious that a) he doesn’t mention this and b) it would be much harder for him to deny all knowledge or any responsibility as he tried to do in his postings.

            The credit card information is tangible and indisputable. I guess if they kept ip logs from uploads that would be hard proof as well.

            Then again I suspect we would hear “my cousin shares my wifi”.

            He really should have gone with “yeah, I’ll write exactly what you want, thanks for working with me”.

            As the author of some sketchy apps his credibility was kinda questionable to begin with. Which is probably why he tried to hide that.

      • Michael Utech

        Well this information actually turned my position upside down. As it appears now, Apple was much more constructive and good intentioned than I would have expected from any company.

        Now, whether or not there are two people involved, whether or not he passed over his products to his relative, the sole fact that he was trying to hide his much deeper involvement in the other account removes all credibility for his position and statements.

  • Andrew Lee
    • nht

      Yeah, I was going to repost that too. Nice sleuthing on the wayback machine.

      Looks like he doubled down and bet against the internet finding out his past with the usual results.

  • Gushi

    Why was the fact that Steam recently did the same thing not mentioned in this Article?

  • michaelamie

    I’m using ReiserFS right now and it kicks ass.