ChatGPT Fake Apps: Expensive subscriptions for zero features


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A Sophos report uncovers the rip-off through expensive ChatGPT imitations: The fraud apps continue to thrive due to gaps in the app store guidelines from the current interest in the latest version of the AI-supported language model and benefit with sometimes horrendous subscriptions. Fees .

Sophos X-Ops has uncovered various apps on the official Apple and Google stores posing as legitimate ChatGPT-based chatbots, scamming users with obfuscated, often extortionate, fees, thereby raking in thousands of dollars a month for scammers.

Fleeceware: Expensive apps with tons of ads

The report "FleeceGPT Mobile Apps Target AI-Curious to Rake in Cash" uncovers the machinations of these so-called "fleeceware" programs, in which users with almost zero functionality and constant advertising are to be driven to a paid subscription in free trial versions. In addition, the scammers increase the attractiveness of their apps with fake reviews and constant requests for users to rate the app before it is even used or before the free trial ends.

“Scammers have and will always use the latest trends or technology to line their pockets. ChatGPT is no exception. Since the interest in AI and chatbots is currently extremely high, users - including companies - are currently downloading almost anything that resembles ChatGPT in a very unthinking manner - behavior that the developers of this type of fraud apps, Sophos calls them "fleeceware", of course plays into the cards.

Subscriptions continue after app deletion

They assume that users don't pay attention to the costs or simply forget that they have a subscription. The Fleeceware apps are specifically designed to do thisthat they can hardly be used or not at all after the end of the free trial version. This is particularly insidious, since even if the app is deleted, the subscription payments often continue. Users who have been taken in by Fleeceware apps should be sure to follow the Apple and Google app store guidelines for officially opting out,” said Sean Gallagher, Principal Threat Researcher at Sophos.

The original is free, the fakes ask you to pay immediately

In the current report, Sophos X-Ops examined five fleeceware apps, all of which are said to be based on the ChatGPT algorithm. In some cases, like the Chat GBT app, developers exploit the similarity in name to the original to improve their app's ranking in Google Play or App Store. However, while OpenAI provides users with the basic functionality of ChatGPT for free - albeit only with the help of a browser - these apps cost between USD 10 per month and USD 70,00 per year - without any added value. All providers take advantage of the fact that OpenAI currently does not offer its own apps.

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The iOS version of Chat GBT, dubbed Ask AI Assistant, costs $6 a week after the three-day free trial -- or $312 a year -- and netted creators over $10.000 in March alone. dollars in the coffers; despite numerous negative reviews. The detailed analysis of this and all other rogue apps can be found in the "FleeceGPT Mobile Apps Target AI-Curious to Rake in Cash" report.

First apps deleted from the stores

All apps mentioned in the report have been reported, Google has removed some of the apps on its platform at the time of the blog post, Apple has confirmed receipt of the information. Users who have already downloaded these apps should follow the Apple App Store or Google Play store's "opt-out" guidelines. Simply deleting the Fleeceware app does not always automatically terminate the subscription.

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About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries trust Sophos. We offer the best protection against complex IT threats and data loss. Our comprehensive security solutions are easy to deploy, use and manage. They offer the lowest total cost of ownership in the industry. Sophos offers award-winning encryption solutions, security solutions for endpoints, networks, mobile devices, email and the web. In addition, there is support from SophosLabs, our worldwide network of our own analysis centers. The Sophos headquarters are in Boston, USA and Oxford, UK.


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