Earlier this morning I was the unwitting recipient of a storm of spam tweets from Sinecure Industries’ Michael Mizov (@MikeMizov).

Only one of the 50+ tweets @MikeMizov spammed out thus far (it is still continuing), was actually directly addressed to me:

@OTGGamer Hi Brett, you don’t seem to be very addicted to @SinecureInd ‘s apps. Is he, @SeanFlanagan ? We never even talk anymore 🙁

No doubt, a poorly conceived marketing scheme (I’ve unfollowed all of Sinecure’s twitter accounts), it actually shed some light on some possible shenanigans the company has been engaged in with respect to iTunes reviews.

So sorry Michael, what great new app from Sinecure Industries did I miss?

Despite the terrible marking method, I thought that perhaps I had missed something, so I searched up ‘Sinecure’ on the App Store and all I could find for recent releases was last month’s Vision Assist: Ambient Night Vision Aid, yet another average looking light/flashlight app with a bunch of marketing speak thrown into the app description to try to make it sound new and engaging, because it didn’t JUST use the LED light…that would be TOO BRIGHT!

Then I saw the App Store reviews…TEN 5-STAR REVIEWS???!!!

All with glowing comments like:

“All the other night vision apps use the camera and try to make it an effect, instead of actually letting you see in the dark. Guess what? When it’s dark, the camera can’t see either! This one actually lights up the room just enough to see without shocking your eyes like those “flashlight” apps. That’s all I ask, and this one delivers.”


“Works perfectly, great job”

The problem is, those two reviews I just quoted above were from “Sean Flanagan” and “Micheal Mizov” (respectively), the actual co-creators of the app, the guys who run Sinecure Industries! The Developers are reviewing their own app (and it is not the first time they’ve done so).

When called on this, “Michael Mizov” tweeted “Well, I made it every other tweet. And why can’t we review our own app?”. I’m fairly certain that Apple frowns upon this (if not outright forbids it). I mean come on, if given the option, what developer wouldn’t give themselves a 5-star review. If you had a 100 person development team, are they ALL allowed to give 5-star reviews (without revealing the fact they worked on the app)? This still doesn’t address the fact that nowhere in their reviews do Mizov or Flanagan they state they are the developers, instead they pose like ordinary customers.

Another of the 5-star reviewer’s names is “Mikeysautie”, which I am guessing is a relative as well. In fact, nearly all of the ten 5-star reviewers have pretty much ONLY ever reviewed other apps in Sinecure’s catalog, always bestowing upon them high praises and 5-star reviews! Yes, these reviewers did buy teh app in order to leave a review, and so yes they are entitled to leave a review, but one has to wonder if they ever even launched the app before giving it 5 stars.

I know that indie devs need to have a way to get their apps noticed, but gaming the system by having the devs themselves, as well as friends and family give your app 5 star reviews in iTunes is not the way to do it. Frankly I’m really disappointed to see Sinecure stoop to this level and hopefully they will be removing any/all of these bogus reviews. We bloggers need to reveal that there is a possibility that we received an app for free when we reviewed it, so why shouldn’t developers have to reveal that they created an app if they decide to review it on the app store?

What are your thoughts, should Apple lay down the ban hammer on developers for engaging in behaviors like this (especially repeat offenders)?