Google is taking legal action against scammers who are using artificial intelligence to steal social media passwords from US small businesses. The scammers, operating under aliases such as Google AI and AIGoogle.Plus, target small-business owners with deceptive Facebook ads offering a download of Google’s Bard AI chatbot, which is actually a web-based platform available for free and not through download. Once users fall for the ploy and download the fake AI chatbot, their devices become infected with malware that transmits their social media credentials to the hackers, who then take control of victims’ social media accounts and spread more malware-linked ads. Google is seeking to halt the scam and secure damages as the exact number of victims is unknown, but Google has filed approximately 300 takedown requests to remove the fraudulent ads.
This lawsuit is thought to be the first of its kind to safeguard users of a major tech company’s flagship AI product, and it aims to gather further information on the operation of the alleged scheme. The scammers primarily target small businesses with Facebook accounts, and the ads aim to mimic Google’s legitimate Bard product advertisements on Facebook. Facebook and other platforms generally cooperate to remove such fraudulent ads. This scheme appears to be part of a broader trend of malware scams affecting businesses, with Meta, Facebook’s parent company, previously reporting blocking over 1,000 malicious URLs, with many attacks originating in Vietnam. Google’s legal action is crucial in safeguarding the online security of small businesses and their social media accounts from these sophisticated AI-driven scams.