Apple Bans App Store Developer Over 'Fraudulent' Activity

The story, first reported over the weekend by the blog TNW Apple, surfaced after developers of highly ranked iPhone paid book apps noticed that developer Thuat Nguyen had suddenly taken over about 40 of the top 50 rankings in that category.

It appears that shady developers are working with hacker syndicates in Asia to procure user names and passwords of iTunes customers, and are then using these compromised accounts to purchase their own App Store offerings and leave themselves glowing feedback, thereby propelling their offerings to higher rankings.

Apple on Tuesday finally issued a statement on the matter, but interestingly, it wasn't in the form of an official press release. "The developer Thuat Nguyen and his apps were removed from the App Store for violating the developer Program License Agreement, including fraudulent purchase patterns," Apple said Tuesday in a statement sent to Engadget and widely quoted by other media outlets.

To reassure potentially stressed out iTunes customers, Apple also said developers don't receive any confidential customer data when a customer downloads an app from the App Store using their iTunes account.

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However, the fact that Apple is also recommending that iTunes subscribers change their passwords immediately suggests this sort of fraud may be more widespread. And according to TNW Apple, those whose accounts have been comprised have had between $100 and $1400 charged to their credit cards.

Apple is reportedly investigating the issue and may just be playing its cards close to the vest with Tuesday's terse confirmation that something is amiss. But there's a good chance that Apple is going to have to ban many more of these "developers" from the App Store before it gets to the bottom of this issue.