Apple is battling a developer scam that has plagued the App Store for several years now, where developers would upload screenshots of an app for approval by Apple but would then switch them with screenshots from another app that was more widely known.
Apple has now announced through its Developer Portal that they will be locking in screenshots after a developer submits an app, in order to curb the scam, which tricks users into thinking that they are downloading a original or better game than the one that is shown in the screenshots. In some cases, the fake screenshots shown on the application were not even for an iOS app, but for another OS platform or device.
Beginning January 9, app screenshots will be locked in iTunes Connect once your app has been approved. New screenshots may be uploaded when you submit a binary for an update to an existing app or a new app.
One example of a scammed app included a Pokemon Yellow app that got approved for the App Store by Apple using various screenshots that otherwise would not raise flags. After approval, the developer then switched out these screenshots with shots from the Nintendo version of the game, which prompted thousands of customers to spend their money buying an app that they thought was the original Pokemon game.
Other apps that did this included different versions of popular block building game, Minecraft. The app called, Mooncraft used the same scam to switch screenshots and get users to download a fake app. Under the new rules, Apple will allow Developers to submit new screenshots only if they submit them alongside a binary that shows an update.
Majority of the apps that are being scammed are more popular apps such as Pokemon, Minecraft, and perhaps even others such as Angry Birds and Plants VS. Zombies. It is likely that Apple’s new developer rules will help curb the screenshot scam and the company has been known to refund customers their money if they succumbed to a scam on the App Store. It is unclear if they will do so with this latest scam however.