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iTunes Store attacked by app farmers

Apple's iTunes App Store has been attacked by rogue developers from Asia in an effort to steal money and put fake applications at the top of the store's rankings.

The Next Web is reporting that more than 30 readers have complained about dodgy transactions being made on their accounts, most of which are for a single Asian developer.

Thirty cases may not seem like a lot but those are the people who have reported thefts to a single web site. As most victims would report the issue direct to Apple, the chances are that there could be many thousands of unreported cases all over the world.

Initially, small transactions are made for a few dollars but, if the unauthorised activity isn't promptly reported, larger purchases of up to $100 are made. Some iTunes customers say they have lost as much as $600 and are being forced to contact their banks in order to retrieve the missing cash.

The tricksters are also using the phished accounts to artificially boost sales rankings ton the top of the App Store charts, no doubt in order to solicit further purchases from unwitting user.

Most of the phantom sales have happened in the past four weeks, although a few can be dated back to 2009.

Apple is telling anyone affected by unauthorised account activity to change their passwords immediately.

The biggest alleged offender, a developer called Thuat Nguyen, has been removed from the App Store but there are reportedly other smaller operators playing the same 'App farming' games.

Dubious developers have been banished from the App Store for hoodwinking users out of their cash in the past, but this is by the far the biggest instance to date.