Sophos, a renowned cybersecurity platform, has recently uncovered seven fraudulent cryptocurrency investment apps available on the official Google Play and Apple App stores. These apps, including AIGPA X G-M, BerryX, Bone Global, Momclub, Metaverse Ranch, and CMUS, present themselves with different descriptions but share a common deceptive characteristic – they load fake crypto trading interfaces from remote websites.
Despite claiming to serve various purposes, these apps establish a connection with a remote URL that leads to a CryptoRom fake crypto-trading interface. Here, unsuspecting users are prompted to invest in cryptocurrencies. The CryptoRom scam is notorious for combining fake crypto trading with romance scams. In an alarming development, the scammers have now started utilizing generative artificial intelligence (AI) chat tools to lure and interact with victims.
Sophos security researchers Jagadeesh Chandraiah and Sean Gallagher recently published a report titled Sha Zhu Pan Scam Uses AI Chat Tool to Target iPhone and Android Users, analyzing the increasing trend of shā zhū pán scams that have targeted mobile device users over the past two years. These CryptoRom scams typically initiate contact through dating apps or social media platforms. Once the conversation moves to private messaging apps like WhatsApp or Telegram, the scammers introduce the idea of trading cryptocurrencies and offer guidance on installing and funding a fake crypto-trading app.
What makes this development concerning is the utilization of generative AI tools such as ChatGPT or Google Bard, enabling scammers to create more convincing conversations with their targets. This not only makes the interactions more persuasive but also reduces the scammers’ workload when dealing with multiple victims. Recent cases have also revealed that scammers are resorting to additional excuses to extract more money from their victims.
To make matters worse, these fraudulent apps have managed to bypass the app store reviews conducted by Apple and Google. By modifying the app’s content after approval, scammers can switch from a benign app to a fraudulent one without arousing suspicion. Previously, targeting iPhone users required a technical workaround that could raise suspicions, but now it has become easier for them to expand their victim pool.
Sophos researchers urge individuals who believe they have fallen victim to these scams to report the incidents to local authorities experienced in dealing with fraud cases. They also advise victims to contact their banks to explore the possibility of reversing any transactions and report the wallet addresses of the fraud to the relevant cryptocurrency exchange.
It is crucial for users to remain vigilant and exercise caution while engaging in cryptocurrency investments, ensuring they only trust reliable sources and thoroughly verify apps before downloading.