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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Don’t download any AI apps before reading this

AI chatbots are one of the hottest tools being discussed right now. Like OpenAI, Google, Microsoft and others, many companies are hopping on the bandwagon and making their version of chatbots. However, with an invention comes a new way for cybercriminals to attack you. 

Now, crooks are turning to fake AI chatbot apps to swindle you.  Let’s dive into what to look for and how to avoid being tricked. 

What’s wrong with AI chatbot apps? 

According to a report from the cybersecurity firm Sophos, scammers have been creating fake apps claiming to be just like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and overflowing the app stores with them in hopes people will buy into them. Most of the apps are free to download, although they won’t even let you use most of their features unless you buy a subscription that can be as high as $69.99 per month. 



AI Chatbot Assistant — Ask AI 

Picture of AIChat app scam

AI Chatbot Assistant limits users to just three inputs per day before locking them out and urging them to pay for trial use. (Sophos)

Another fake app that, unfortunately, is still on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store is AI Chatbot Assistant. Like the Chat GBT app that was taken down, AI Chatbot Assistant limits users to three inputs per day before locking them out and prompting them to enroll in a free three-day trial, which turns into a $6-per-week subscription fee. 

When asked a question, it will respond with a brief description and a “Read More” link that prompts people to pay for a monthly or annual subscription. Some users have also said the app is “one big ad hub” and “only spats out gibberish.” 

It also constantly prompts users to pay a subscription fee of $8 per week and will take a few minutes before allowing users to close out of the prompt. Plus, the name of the app is constantly changing. It has already managed to call itself AIChatChabot, Pocket AI Chat and Writing BOT Pocket AI. 

Genie — AI Chatbot 

Genie AI app

Genie AI users only get four free questions per day without opting in. (Sophos)

Genie AI is also still on the App Store and shows similar qualities to these other fleeceware apps. Not only will it ask to track you upon installation, but it also will prompt you to rate the app before you even begin using it. It doesn’t hesitate to ask you to enroll in subscription fees either, giving you the option of either doing a three-day free trial and then charging $7 per week or opting in for an annual $70 subscription fee. Users get only four free questions per day without opting into the trial. 

AI Chatbot: Open Chat AI 

Open Chat AI

You’ll constantly get prompted to pay for subscriptions or look at ads on this app. (Sophos)

This app originally installed itself under the name “AI Smith” and has also used the name “AI Chatbot – Open Chat Writer.” The screenshots on the App Store also don’t look like the actual app once it installs, and it has a five-message limit per day without a subscription. Plus, you’ll constantly get prompted to pay for subscriptions, rate the app or look at unwanted ads. 

Don’t download from a third-party site 

Scammers will often try to create fake websites that look real, hoping people will download these apps from there. However, you should never download an app that is not directly available from the Apple Store or the Google Play Store. Although some apps can slip through the cracks, you’re much less likely to get something fake from these platforms than from a third-party site. 

Example of trial charge in AI app

Never download an app that’s not directly from the Apple Store or Google Play Store. (Sophos)

Avoid chatbots from smaller brands 

As of now, I think you should avoid using chatbots that aren’t from the major companies we know about, like OpenAI, Bing and Google. These bigger tech companies are guaranteed to keep you much safer, and you don’t want to risk anything with a smaller brand until it’s proven that the brand is legit. 

Check the developer information 

Check the developer details of the app. Legitimate apps are typically developed by established companies or well-known developers. Look for contact information, website links and a history of other reputable apps developed by the same entity. 

Example of an AI conversation on an AI app

Don’t give away your contact, banking or other sensitive personal information. (Sophos)

Always read reviews 

Before downloading an app, make sure you read multiple reviews — and not just the positive ones. As we mentioned before, scammers can always create fake reviews to make an app seem legit, so keep your wits about yourself and use your judgment and my tips to determine whether you think an app is real or fake. If you have any doubts at all, then it’s best not to download. 

Pay attention to permissions and requests 

Pay attention to the permissions requested by the app during installation. Be cautious if an app asks for excessive permissions that seem unrelated to its functionality. Grant only the necessary permissions required for the app to function. 

Keep up with regular updates 

Keep your device’s operating system, apps and security software up to date. Updates often contain bug fixes and security patches that help protect against known vulnerabilities. 

Kurt’s key takeaways 

We’ve seen plenty of circumstances where scammers create fake apps, so just be careful when you’re looking into trying a new one. Opt for the bigger, more legit companies before anything else, and make sure you’re always reading and doing as much research as you can before hitting that download button. 

Have you ever downloaded an app from clicking a link instead of going to the App Store or Google Play? Let us know by writing us at CyberGuy.com/Contact.


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