Experts have exposed several apps as ChatGPT-based chatbots that overcharge users and bring in thousands of dollars a month, a new report showed on Thursday.
According to cybersecurity company Sophos, there are a number of free apps that are available on Google Play and Apple App Store, but because they provide little functionality and are constantly ad-ridden, they entice unsuspecting users to subscribe for hundreds of dollars a year.
"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," said Sean Gallagher, principal threat researcher, Sophos.
According to the report, experts investigated five of these ChatGPT fleeceware apps, all of which claimed to be based on ChatGPT's algorithm.
For instance, developers of the app "Chat GBT" used ChatGPT's name to boost their rankings in Google Play or App Store.
While OpenAI provides basic ChatGPT functionality to users for free online, these apps charged anywhere from $10 per month to $70 per year.
After a three-day free trial, the iOS version of "Chat GBT", called Ask AI Assistant, charges $6 per week -- or $312 per year -- after earning the developers $10,000 in March alone, the report said.
Moreover, the report mentioned that another fleeceware-like app, Genie, which encourages users to sign up for a $7 weekly or $70 annual subscription, earned $1 million in the previous month.
"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'," said Gallagher.
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