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Are shady iPhone games stealing iTunes credit?

Boyaa via Apple

There's a creepy thing happening in a back corner of Apple's App Store: A handful of games published by Chinese developers appear to use in-app purchases to wipe out users' iTunes gift card credit.

The situation was brought to light by TheNextWeb, which cited an outpouring of angst on Apple's own support pages, where users complained of similarly suspicious charges from "Hongbin Suo" and "GAMEISLIVE CORPORATION LIMITED."

"I received two gift cards over the weekend and redeemed them via my iPhone. Then I saw two unauthorized orders over totaling $50.00," reported one user. Another said, "Never bought the game or chips, they used all the credit left on my balance in iTunes."

At least one victim reported that Apple had responded quickly to their complaint, saying their lost money would be refunded to their account within 48 hours. Despite this, there is no word from Apple on the matter. (I checked with them and have not received an official response.)

Apple is pretty good about filtering apps that go into the store, but with over 300,000 cramming the virtual shelves, it's certainly getting harder. I scanned for some of the alleged games and did in fact find some. So, to play it safe, be sure to stay away from "Boyaa Texas Hold'em" and anything else from Boyaa Company Limited, especially if it says "Seller: Hongbin Suo." Also avoid Lakoo's "Banker" series, whose seller is listed as "GAMEISLIVE CORPORATION LIMITED."

Most importantly, try to stick to apps that have thousands of downloads and hundreds of positive ratings, and if anything shady does happens after you download an app, report it to Apple immediately.

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