Google has filed a lawsuit against unidentified individuals in India and Vietnam, alleging a scam exploiting growing interest in artificial intelligence tools. According to The Wall Street JournalThe scam specifically targets U.S. small businesses, tricking them into compromising passwords to their social media accounts.
The Bard AI chatbot scam
The fraud involves tricking small business owners into clicking on Facebook ads promising a download of Google’s Bard artificial intelligence chatbot. However, these ads are misleading: Bard is a web platform and is not available for download. Hackers using fake names like Google AI and AIGoogle Bard FB operate an organized scheme with advertisements falsely claiming affiliation with Google.
When victims click on Bard’s download offer, the malware infects their devices and steals their social media credentials. Hackers then hijack these social media accounts to serve more malware-related ads. Google’s lawsuit, filed in a federal district court in Northern California, seeks to stop the scam and seek damages. According to Google General Counsel Halimah DeLaine Prado, this may be the first lawsuit of its kind aimed at protecting users of a major tech company’s AI product.
Although the full impact of this scam is not yet clear, Google has reportedly filed around 300 takedown requests to remove these misleading ads. Although Facebook and other platforms have generally responded to these requests, the threat persists.
The scheme is indicative of a broader trend of malware scams targeting businesses, as noted by Facebook parent company Meta Platforms. In May, Meta blocked the sharing on its platforms of more than 1,000 malicious URLs offering ChatGPT-based tools, many of which originated in Vietnam.
Protecting users in the age of AI
The lawsuit highlights the challenges and risks of growing interest in AI tools, particularly for small businesses on social media. It also highlights the need for increased vigilance and robust protective measures against such sophisticated cyber scams.