AI currently dominates the technological landscape, and opportunistic scammers are quick to exploit the buzz surrounding it to target individuals interested in cutting-edge technology. Google has taken decisive action by filing a lawsuit in California against a group of scammers who posed as the tech giant to pilfer sensitive data from unsuspecting victims. Halimah DeLaine Prado, Google’s General Counsel, made the announcement in a recent blog post.
According to Google, the scammers employed various deceptive tactics, such as creating social media pages and running ads enticing users to ‘download’ Bard, a generative AI tool offered by Google that actually requires no download.
The scammers used Google’s logos, trademarks, and product names, including Bard, to lend credibility to their scheme. The misleading ads directed users to a fraudulent third-party website designed to mimic a Google-affiliated site, where visitors were prompted to download software purportedly for using Bard. However, this software was, in fact, harmful malware designed to compromise the victims’ sensitive data.
Although the identities of the scammers remain unknown to Google, the lawsuit aims to thwart their activities by preventing them from setting up similar schemes on domain names. Google seeks collaboration with domain name registrars to swiftly disable these fraudulent domains as they emerge.
Google fights scammers using Bard hype to spread malware
The company reported taking down approximately 300 instances related to this particular scammer group. The scheme resulted in the compromise of social media accounts for users who unwittingly downloaded the disguised malware.
Earlier coverage by Mashable in May shed light on this scam within the broader context of scammers in Vietnam stealing large Facebook pages and tricking users into downloading malware disguised as Bard and other tools.
The Verge shared an example of one of the scam Facebook pages mentioned in Google’s lawsuit, mirroring the findings reported earlier in the year.
Google’s proactive response sets an intriguing precedent and may inspire other companies to take similar measures against scammers. Google emphasizes, as it did with Bard, that users need not download any software or third-party applications to use its AI chatbot—it is readily accessible on the web. The same holds true for ChatGPT.