An app developer by the name of Kosta Eleftheriou, responsible for his Apple Watch keyboard app FlickType, is becoming somewhat of a mouthpiece against Apple and the scams occurring on its App Store. As it stands, Eleftheriou has filed, and is in the middle of an antitrust lawsuit with the tech giant. He has uncovered several multi-million-dollar scams on the App Store and is extremely vocal when it comes to his grievances with the Silicon Valley company on Twitter. The latest ploy he discovered was a Turkish Online Casino disguised as a children’s gaming app called Jungle Runner 2k21.
Prior to the discovery of the concealed casino, he pinpointed a badly developed astronomy app that charged users $10 per week. The reviews were disconcerting and highlighted the scam, yet the app itself had over 80,000 5-star ratings presumed to come from fake accounts.
Jungle Runner 2k21
Eleftheriou tweeted that he had engaged the poorly created children’s app, Jungle Runner 2k21, which is described as a ‘runner game’ where the task is to simulate a monkey to collect bananas and beat obstacles. The strategy behind this game is similar to plenty of legitimate games we have seen on the App Store like Subway Surfer and Minion Rush, except this knockoff was less entertaining and had performance bugs.
The presence of the bugs and the performance of the game itself was not the primary concern for developer Colin Malachi, because this app had a very different, very lucrative purpose. Malachi concealed a Turkish Online Casino through this supposed children’s app as a way of getting prospective U.S audiences to access it through the U.S App Store.
This casino involved real money or cryptocurrency gambling, not however facilitated through Apples’ in-app payment system. Jungle Runner 2k21 is essentially the casino’s mobile application – but you must know the tricks in order to switch it from the game to the casino. This entails running a VPN set to a Turkish IP address, once this is done, the monkey runner game gets replaced by the casino. This is how this scam was discovered by Eleftheriou. He further highlights that complaints on the app’s reviews section discussed that players were scammed out of a ‘guaranteed’ bonus.
While authentic online casinos and gambling games are not banned from the App Store, many of them come with restricted countries, so while this casino could be visible in Turkey for example, it could not be visible to players in the U.S or other parts of the world – hence the desire to conceal them under alias apps to reach new audiences.
Chameleon apps to evade detection
Jungle Runner 2k21 is not the first app of its kind to utilize the Chameleon App method of concealment. Magical Forest Puzzle, an app by the same developer, had the same result but involved a different online casino. Both chameleon apps have subsequently been removed by Apple, and they have remained silent on the matter of these scams occurring on their App Store.
Chameleon apps, those designed to disguise their true purposes are in violation of Apple’s regulations. It must be noted that online gambling has been illegal in Turkey since 2006 and this has resulted in Turkish casinos becoming more innovative in order to evade detection.
In 2018, Apple found themselves in hot water once again, but this time by the Chinese State Media for failing to regulate apps that contained pornography and gambling. Apple consequently went on to announce that they had sifted through and erased hundreds of chameleon apps from their App Stores. In some cases, it appeared that scam apps outranked legitimate apps when it came to ratings.