Apple pulled a fake cryptocurrency wallet app from the App Store this morning, but not before the app managed to nab the third spot in the store’s Finance category.
The app was called MyEtherWallet and claimed to be a platform for users to manage a type of cryptocurrency called Ethereum. It cost $4.99 and boasted features such as Ethereum wallet management, secure wallet key storage, and offline wallet creation. Of course, while MyEtherWallet.com is a real cryptocurrency management platform, the company doesn’t have an official iOS app — meaning that the app was a fraudulent one.
MyEtherWallet.com tweeted a warning to users on Sunday and added that it contacted Apple and had reported the app as a fake. As of Monday afternoon, Apple appears to have pulled the app from the App Store entirely.
The listed developer for the fake MyEtherWallet app was Nam Lee, who had two other, unrelated iOS apps — “Panda Warrior: Kung Fu Awesomeness” and “Mr. Beard. Icehole Fishermans” — and a watchOS app named Wrist Count. Lee appears to have no ties to the actual developers of MyEtherWallet.
One clue as to the app’s fraudulent nature may have been its price. The real MyEtherWallet service is described as a “free, open-source, client-side interface for generating Ethereum wallets & more.” In its tweet, MyEtherWallet stated that they are “Foss4Lyfe” — FOSS being an acronym for “free and open-source software.” In other words, a price tag attached to one of their services is dubious. More than that, profiting off of the software is highly unethical.
It’s currently unclear whether the fake wallet app delivered on any of its featured promises (but we’d guess that it didn’t) or if it maliciously utilized user data in any way. In the worst case scenarios, the app’s developer could be using information inputted into the fake app to steal funds.
According to TechCrunch, the app was available for about a week and had been downloaded around 3,000 times. It’s unknown how the app made it past Apple’s usually stringent app review process. Thus far, Apple has not commented on the matter.
Apps focused on buying and selling cryptocurrencies have been a spike in popularity in the iOS App Store recently. A real cryptocurrency app called Coinbase ranked as the most downloaded free app in the U.S. last week — probably in the wake of the price of bitcoin rising by 20 percent in one day and climbing past $17,000.
On a side note, a quick visit to MyEtherWallet’s website brings up a detailed tutorial on how not to get scammed. If you’re a newcomer to cryptocurrency, it’s recommended that you exercise caution and do your research. For a myriad of reasons, you want to ensure that your data and funds are secure. To help you out, this website keeps a running tab of known Ethereum scam websites and services.