Article: Fake ChatGPT apps swindle users, raking in thousands of dollars


Fake ChatGPT apps swindle users, raking in thousands of dollars

Fleeceware apps exploit App Store loopholes to overcharge users for AI assistants
Fake ChatGPT apps swindle users, raking in thousands of dollars

Cybersecurity company Sophos has uncovered a series of fraudulent apps posing as legitimate ChatGPT-based chatbots, exploiting unsuspecting users and generating significant thousands of dollars a month. 

These deceptive apps have infiltrated the Google Play and Apple App Store. By offering limited functionality and bombarding users with ads, they coerce individuals into costly subscriptions amounting to hundreds of dollars annually, the report revealed.

"These scam apps, also known as 'fleeceware,' take advantage of users' interest in AI and chatbots, luring them to download what appears to be ChatGPT-related apps from the Apple App and Google Play Stores," explained Sean Gallagher, principal threat researcher at Sophos. 

"Designed with tactics to minimize usage after the free trial, these apps often deceive users into forgetting about their subscriptions, resulting in recurring monthly or weekly payments." 

Sophos investigated five of these ChatGPT fleeceware apps, all of which claimed to be based on ChatGPT’s algorithm. Some developers leveraged the ChatGPT name, such as the app "Chat GBT," to boost their rankings in the app stores. 

Subscription prices for these apps ranged from $10 per month to $70 per year. One iOS version, named Ask AI Assistant, charged users $6 per week or an astounding $312 per year after the three-day free trial. This particular app generated an impressive $10,000 in revenue in March alone. Another app called Genie, offering a $7 weekly or $70 annual subscription, amassed a staggering $1 million in the past month, according to the report.

Gallagher stated. "Despite new guidelines implemented by Google and Apple to combat fleeceware, developers continue to find ways to circumvent these policies, such as severely limiting app functionality until users pay.

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Topics: Technology

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