UNITED KINGDOM: In the wake of ChatGPT’s unprecedented popularity, cybersecurity firm Sophos has issued a stark warning about the proliferation of fake ChatGPT apps. These deceptive applications, coined “fleeceware,” have emerged on both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, posing a significant threat to unsuspecting users. Sophos has highlighted the potential dangers of downloading these apps, including exorbitant subscription costs and relentless advertising bombardment.
The meteoric rise of ChatGPT, a widely-used AI chatbot developed by OpenAI, has inadvertently spawned a breeding ground for online scammers.
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Exploiting the buzz surrounding this innovative technology, fake ChatGPT apps have inundated app stores with near-zero functionality and the sole purpose of serving relentless advertisements. However, the real danger lies in the elaborate subscription scam that ensnares users into committing to exorbitant recurring payments.
Sophos describes the scam as follows: users are coerced into signing up for a subscription that can cost hundreds of dollars per year. Once the free trial period expires, the limited use of these fraudulent apps becomes apparent, often leading users to uninstall them unknowingly while remaining bound to monthly or weekly subscription charges.
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Among the fake ChatGPT apps investigated, Sophos discovered app names deliberately designed to mislead users and increase visibility on the app stores. Examples such as “Chat GBT” were used, duping users into believing they were accessing the genuine ChatGPT service. Disturbingly, these fraudulent apps charged users anywhere from $10 per month to $70 per year, making considerable profits through deceit.
One specific fleeceware app named Genie was found to entice users into subscribing at $7 per week or $70 per year, amassing a staggering $1 million in revenue over just one month. Such instances highlight the need for increased vigilance among users to combat these fraudulent practises.
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While some of these fake ChatGPT apps have already been removed from the app stores, it is anticipated that new iterations will continue to surface in the future. Therefore, users must exercise caution when considering the download of any AI chatbot application. Ensuring the legitimacy of an app and reading the fine print before subscribing are essential steps to protect oneself from falling victim to these scams.
To safeguard against these fraudulent apps, users are advised to report any suspicious ChatGPT clones to Apple and Google. Additionally, those who have already installed these deceptive apps must carefully follow the guidelines provided by the respective app stores to cancel their subscriptions. Deleting the app alone will not terminate the recurring charges.
The rise of fake ChatGPT apps serves as a stark reminder of the importance of digital literacy and vigilance in an increasingly connected world. By remaining aware, verifying app authenticity, reading reviews, and reporting suspicious apps, users can defend themselves against these scams and protect their finances.
Both app stores and users need to work together in combating the proliferation of fake ChatGPT apps and similar fraudulent applications. As technology continues to advance, the collective responsibility to stay informed and vigilant becomes ever more critical to prevent falling victim to cybercriminals.
Also Read: OpenAI Launches ChatGPT iOS App, Bringing AI Chatbot to iPhone Users