This 'Fun Running Game' On iOS Can Secretly Turn Into A Scammy Gambling App

Jungle Runner 2k21

"No monkey business," one saying says. But this one iOS app developer was certainly deceitful.

Apple's ecosystem is considered more mature and polished. But for Kosta Eleftheriou, this is not true at all. He has been uncovering a bunch of scammy iOS apps and a list of dirty deeds by Apple.

This time, he found one developer who has been dodgy all along, in a very unique way.

The developer in question is Colin Malachi.

At first, Eleftheriou found a game called 'Jungle Runner 2k21', which claims to be a "fun running game." Nothing unusual at first, and nothing fishy.

But that's the goal.

For most people, the game is basically a 2D coin running game. But when accessed in Turkey, the game suddenly turns into a cryptocurrency-funded casino.

Eleftheriou first became suspicious when he saw that the app's Terms of Service is stored inside a Pastebin page, which appears for a moment before it disappears.

What's more, it seems that the developer Colin Malachi embedded a website window directly inside the app, an activity that is not that usual.

Starting the app, the game runs like it should.

But when Eleftheriou started using a VPN to make it appear that he is from other countries, the app suddenly transformed from a simple running game into an online casino game when it is accessed from Turkey.

In a later update, he was given a heads up, and said that "the app behaves like a casino in other countries too, like Italy and Kazakhstan."

“As an icing on the cake, people in the reviews say that they deposited large sums for the promise of a bonus, but they never received the promised payouts. Surprising no one, the scammers aren’t even operating a fair casino,” said Eleftheriou.

To lure victims, the developers created lots of fake ads, one of which claims that the app was featured on CNN Turkey.

"Notice the abundance of coins and the “Install and win” copy," Eleftheriou said.

"In order to pass App Review the app claims to be 'a fun running game', and in the US works like an extremely basic and very poorly designed kids game."

Eleftheriou suggests that since users trust the App Store, they will also think that it is safe to download the app.

In fact, the app even had a few updates that were successfully accepted by Apple.

But what makes the app particularly dangerous is that, it was disguised as a kids game.

At this time, App Store's rules are under intense scrutiny, with Apple's main argument to justify its 30% app commission it asks from developers is a necessity as that money Apple earns will be reinvested back into the platform to manage security, review apps, and protect users from malware.

“'This begs the question: how much is the tech giant really doing to protect users if new scam apps are surfacing on the App Store every day',” Eleftheriou asked, in which he answered: "Not enough, clearly."

“Alternative App Stores that focus on security rather than revenue would do a much better job than Apple,” he added.

“The iPhone already has enough system-level protections to make this work, and Apple needs to drop the security theater that’s harming consumers every day.”

The app creator, Colin Malachi, was impossible to find online, but according to Eleftheriou, his scams have been commencing for months.

Eleftheriou suggests that the Cupertino tech giant that is led by Tim Cook isn't doing enough in protecting users from scammers and fraudulent apps because they generate millions in revenue for the App Store via fraudulent subscriptions.

In other words, Apple receives its standard 30% cut from the scammers, and it's like nobody ought to know about it.

Following the news, the game Jungle Runner 2k21 appears to have been pulled from the App Store in the United States.

Besides the Jungle Runner 2k21 game, the developer also had another incredibly basic game on the App Store called “Magical Forest - Puzzle” that was also a front for gambling. That app has also been removed from the App Store.

Eleftheriou has a track record of finding scammy iOS apps.

According to him, it's not like Android is better or iOS is worse, but it's because "Apple has brainwashed us so much about the trustworthiness of the App Store, that people think there’s something nefarious about how I keep finding all these scams."

"It’s just *that* easy."