Research Uncovers Flood of Fleeceware and ChatGPT Apps by Fraudsters in App Stores

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With the emergence of advanced artificial intelligence (AI) tools, the scams related to ChatGPT have started to increase as well. Sophos security researchers have warned of scam apps enticing users in the form of fleeceware apps on the Google Play Store. These fleeceware apps typically try to charge users subscription fees under the disguise of free trials.

Fleeceware apps are a specific type of scam where the developers try to deceive users into paying for their apps. Currently, ChatGPT-related scam apps are the ones primarily being affected. Since there is no official ChatGPT mobile app yet, scammers are taking advantage of this fact by advertising a ‘free’ version of the app. However, in reality, the app will continuously show ads until the user pays for the premium version of the app. Google and Apple both have policies in place, which require developers to properly list subscription prices in their apps. However, it appears that some scammers are bypassing this policy.

Sean Gallagher, a senior security researcher at Sophos, has further confirmed that scammers are also taking advantage of social media to advertise these apps. They often employ strategies like misspellings in the app’s name to filter out users who may be more aware of what is going on. The goal is to ensnare unsuspecting users who may not have the knowledge or resources to easily unsubscribe from the subscription service.

To avoid falling prey to these scams, users should take extra precaution when downloading apps, and ensure that the subscription pricing is displayed properly. Furthermore, until an official version of the ChatGPT mobile app is available, users should access ChatGPT on their mobile service through the official website. OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, has released an official iOS app. However, as of now, no official app has been released for Android users. Google and Apple are both taking steps to prevent such scams from occurring, but the users themselves need to take extra precaution as well.

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