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How Scammers are Using Fake ChatGPT Apps to Fleece Users Out of Thousands of Dollars – Sophos Reports

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Sophos, a global leader in innovating and delivering cybersecurity as a service, on Tuesday announced that it had uncovered multiple apps masquerading as legitimate, ChatGPT-based chatbots to overcharge users and bring in thousands of dollars a month.

As detailed in Sophos X-Ops’ latest report, “’FleeceGPT’ Mobile Apps Target AI-Curious to Rake in Cash,” these apps have popped up in both the Google Play and Apple App Store, and, because the free versions have near-zero functionality and constant ads, they coerce unsuspecting users into signing up for a subscription that can cost hundreds of dollars a year.

“Scammers have and always will use the latest trends or technology to line their pockets. ChatGPT is no exception. With interest in AI and chatbots arguably at an all-time high, users are turning to the Apple App and Google Play Stores to download anything that resembles ChatGPT. These types of scam apps—what Sophos has dubbed ‘fleeceware’—often bombard users with ads until they sign up for a subscription.

“They’re banking on the fact that users won’t pay attention to the cost or simply forget that they have this subscription.

“They’re specifically designed so that they may not get much use after the free trial ends, so users delete the app without realizing they’re still on the hook for a monthly or weekly payment,” said Sean Gallagher, principal threat researcher, Sophos.

In total, Sophos X-Ops investigated five of these ChatGPT fleeceware apps, all of which claimed to be based on ChatGPT’s algorithm. In some cases, as with the app “Chat GBT,” the developers played off the ChatGPT name to improve their app’s ranking in the Google Play or App Store.

Fleeceware ChatGPT danger

While OpenAI offers the basic functionality of ChatGPT to users for free online, these apps were charging anything from $10 a month to $70.00 a year.

The iOS version of “Chat GBT,” called Ask AI Assistant, charges $6 a week—or $312 a year—after the three-day free trial; it netted the developers $10,000 in March alone.

Another fleeceware-like app, called Genie, which encourages users to sign up for a $7 weekly or $70 annual subscription, brought in $1 million over the past month.

The key characteristics of so-called fleeceware apps, first discovered by Sophos in 2019, are overcharging users for functionality that is already free elsewhere, as well as using social engineering and coercive tactics to convince users to sign up for a recurring subscription payment. Usually, the apps offer a free trial but with so many ads and restrictions, they’re barely useable until a subscription is paid.

These apps are often poorly written and implemented, meaning app function is often less than ideal even after users switch to the paid version. They also inflate their ratings in the app stores through fake reviews and persistent requests of users to rate the app before it’s even been used or the free trial ends.

“Fleeceware apps are specifically designed to stay on the edge of what’s allowed by Google and Apple in terms of service, and they don’t flout the security or privacy rules, so they are hardly ever rejected by these stores during review. While Google and Apple have implemented new guidelines to curb fleeceware since we reported on such apps in 2019, developers are finding ways around these policies, such as severely limiting app usage and functionality unless users pay up.

While some of the ChatGPT fleeceware apps included in this report have already been taken down, more continue to pop up—and it’s likely more will appear. The best protection is education. Users need to be aware that these apps exist and always be sure to read the fine print whenever hitting ‘subscribe.’ Users can also report apps to Apple and Google if they think the developers are using unethical means to profit,” said Gallagher.

All apps included in the report have been reported to Apple and Google. For users who have already downloaded these apps, they should follow the App or Google Play store’s guidelines on how to “unsubscribe.” Simply deleting the fleeceware app will not void the subscription.

Learn more about these scam ChatGPT apps and how to avoid them in ’FleeceGPT’ Mobile Apps Target AI-Curious to Rake in Cash on Sophos.com


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Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University. Dear Reader, Your support matters. But we believe that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. That is why, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and finance and how they affect lives. Our incisive and analytical view of how technology news affects the daily life help individuals and organizations make up their minds. Quality journalism costs money. Today, we're asking that you support us to do more. Kindly support our effort to deliver technology and finance journalism to everyone in the world. Donate as little as N1,000. Bank transfers can be made to: UBA Plc 1017156876 Communication Week Media Ltd

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NIMC Makes Clarifications on AfriGo, New National Domestic Card Scheme

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National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has said that the new national Identity card, powered by AfriGo Card, is a single card with multiple services.

NIMC Makes Clarifications on AfriGo, New National Domestic Card Scheme

NIMC made the clarification against the confusion and criticisms that have trailed the AfriGo Card , touted as a National Domestic Card Scheme.

NIMC is launching the AfriGo Card, in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS), and has had appointed SecureID, a Lagos headquartered company to manufacture the Card Scheme

Making clarification on the card, Kayode Adegoke, head of Corporate Communications of the NIMC, said the General multipurpose card (GMPC) will eliminate the need for multiple cards.

“The new National ID Card is a single, convenient, and General multi-purpose card (GMPC), eliminating the need for multiple cards—not three.

“The single GMPC has multiple use cases: Payments/Financial, Government intervention/services, travel, etc.

“The National Identity Management Commission is working with the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System to deliver the payment and financial use cases.

“The card will be powered by the AFRIGO card scheme, an indigenous scheme powered by NIBSS. Applicants for the card will have to request with their NIN through the self-service online portal, NIMC offices, or their respective banks.

“The card will be issued through the applicants’ respective banks, in line with existing protocols with the issuance of the Debit/Credit cards.

“The card can be picked up by holders at the designated centre or delivered to the applicants at the requested location at an extra cost to be borne by the applicants,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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E-Business

Visa Launches Subscription Management Solution

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The global subscription market is on a steady rise, expected to reach a staggering $406 billion by 2025. As the trend of consumers subscribing to services in sectors such as retail, food and more increases, so does the challenge of managing their payments.

Recognising this, Visa, a world player in digital payments, has announced the launch of Subscription Manager, a new, all-in-one service for financial institutions to provide Visa cardholders with a simple, convenient way to track their subscriptions, all from the palm of their hands.

In the era of subscription overload, consumers are grappling with the complexities of managing multiple subscriptions across a web of apps. Navigating through each platform’s unique terms can potentially lead to unnoticed charges, even after a subscription is cancelled.

Visa’s new Subscription Manager streamlines key aspects of recurring payments in one place, allowing cardholders to see where their card details are stored, view which recurring payments are attributed to their card, and stop recurring payments.

“Managing subscriptions can often feel like a maze, with consumers sometimes feeling trapped in a cycle of confusing charges,” said Kathleen Pierce-Gilmore, global head of Issuing Solutions at Visa. “Our goal is to make this process simpler and ensure cardholders know exactly where their money is going, and when.”

 


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NAFDAC Warns Nigerians on sale of counterfeit Tandak Injection in Nigeria

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National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NAFDAC) has alerted Nigerians about the sale of counterfeit TANDAK injection 1.5g powder and water for injection, manufactured by Intracin Pharmaceuticals PVT. LTD C-1, B-53, G.I.D.C Estate, Nadiad- 387001, Gujarat, India.

A statement released by the agency on Wednesday, April 10, says the counterfeit product was discovered in Gombe State, Nigeria, and reported to the Agency by Marcson Healthcare Ltd. – the Marketing Authorisation Holder (MAH).

‘’Tandak® injection of 1.5g powder is a co-formulation of Ceftriaxone 1000mg and Sulbactam 500mg. It is prescribed for use in the treatment of various types of bacterial infections. It fights against micro-organisms by preventing their growth, and further spread of the infection. Ceftriaxone+Sulbactam 1000mg/500mg Injection should only be administered under the supervision of a healthcare professional. the statement read.

The illegal marketing of counterfeit medicines poses a risk to the health of people, since by not complying with the regulatory provisions, the safety, quality, and efficacy of the products are not guaranteed.

NAFDAC has directed all its Zonal Directors and State Coordinators to carry out surveillance and mop up the counterfeit products within the Zones and States.

Healthcare professionals and consumers are advised to report any suspicion of the sale of substandard and falsified medicines or medical devices to the nearest NAFDAC office, call 0800-162-3322 or send an email to [email protected].

 


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