Turns out that the tech companies are not the only ones riding the artificial intelligence (AI) hype train, scammers are in it too but not how you think. They are using the hype around AI to take advantage of those who are new to the technology.
Now, Google has come out and sued a group of scammers who were impersonating the tech giant to steal sensitive data belonging to social media users.
Google Files Lawsuit Against Scammer Group Tricking Facebook Users into Downloading Bard Chatbot
According to a post on the official blog, Google general counsel Halimah DeLaine Prado wrote that the company has filed a lawsuit in California against a Vietnamese scammer group that had set up social media pages in the name of Google and was running ads encouraging users to “download” its Bard generative AI.
As part of their grand scheme, the scammers used Google’s logo, trademarks, and product names such as Bard – its freely available generative AI search tool that does not need to be downloaded – to lure “unsuspecting” victims into downloading the malware on their computers. The ads generally ask the victims to visit a third-party website built by the hackers that is made to look like it is affiliated with Google.
On the website, users are asked to download the “latest version” Google Bard, which in reality is a harmful malware that steals the victim’s sensitive information. The lawsuit claims that the scammers specifically used Facebook posts to distribute the malware.
Google has sued three individuals linked with the group, whose identities are unknown, and is seeking to block the fraudsters from setting up their scheme on domain names similar to that of the search giant. The company is also working with US-based domain name registrars to disable the website names as they pop up.
Scammers Ask Unsuspecting Users to Download Google’s Freely Available Generative AI
In the suit, Google highlights how the interest in the emerging new technology can be weaponized by bad actors against people who may not fully understand how it functions. For instance, the scammers claim that Bard is a paid service that users need to download when the AI chatbot is offered for free by the company.
The blog post also notes that Google has already filed “roughly” 300 takedown requests against the group. Tech news outlet Mashable was the first to uncover this scam back in May when it published a report on how Vietnamese scammers were stealing Facebook pages with large followings and tricking users into downloading dangerous malware that was disguised as Bard and other prominent AI tools and applications.
Google’s lawsuit also named several of these accounts. One particular Facebook page called “AIGoogleBard”, asked users to download the latest version of the generative AI for computers, claiming it was “more professional, smarter, and more versatile”. The post provided a Google Drive link to the malicious website alongside an “installation code”. The page had 659,000 followers.
Tech Companies Need to File Lawsuits Against Scammers Taking Advantage of Their Users
This is certainly a step in the right direction by Google and could lead to more companies following suit in combating scammers that impersonate them online. Another report showed that fraudsters are using similar techniques to spread malware by duping users into downloading OpenAI’s popular AI chatbot – ChatGPT.
Similar to Google’s Bard, there is no need for users to download any app or visit a third-party website to use ChatGPT. Both AI chatbots are freely available on the internet.
“Lawsuits are an effective tool for establishing a legal precedent”, wrote DeLaine in the blog post. Adding that it could be used to disrupt the tools utilized by scammers to execute their schemes, and “raise consequences for bad actors”