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  • Writer's pictureTechJunky

Fake Ads Scamming Users to Download "Google Bard"

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

Google has filed a lawsuit against scammers who have been creating fake ads and social media posts telling users to download Google Bard in order to spread malware. The ads claim users need to download the "latest version" of Bard, but since Bard is web-based and free, this is clearly a scam. Clicking these fake download links infects users' computers with malware that can steal social media login credentials.


computer scammer wearing a black hood working on a laptop in a dark room creating fake ads to scam people with malware

The scam ads often use names like "Google AI," "AIGoogle Bard," or "AIGoogle" to seem legitimate. They have heavily targeted Facebook users with paid ads and posts in Facebook groups. The scammers are believed to be based in Vietnam. Since April 2023, Google has filed over 300 takedown requests against the group behind the ads.


The goal of the malware is to steal users' social media credentials and take over their accounts. It particularly targets small businesses and Facebook advertisers. The malware also exfiltrates any other sensitive information stored in people's browsers.


Security experts say there has been an increase in AI-related scams as generative AI grows more popular. The scammers exploit public enthusiasm for AI to trick users. Some have even used synthesized voices to impersonate people's loved ones as part of scams.


Google hopes the lawsuit will set a precedent to allow companies to quickly take down fake domains used for AI scams. Experts say individuals should be vigilant about protecting themselves from increasingly sophisticated AI scams.


How the Fake Ads Spread

  • The scam ads are heavily targeting Facebook users through paid ads and posts in Facebook groups.

  • They use names likeGoogle AI, "AIGoogle Bard," or "AIGoogle" to seem legitimate.

  • Since April 2023, Google has filed over 300 takedown requests against the group behind the ads.

Targeted Audiences

  • The ads target regular social media users who may be enthusiastic about AI advances.

  • They particularly focus on small businesses and Facebook advertisers.

Consequences of Downloading

  • Clicking the fake download links infects devices with malware.

  • The malware is designed to steal social media login credentials.

  • It can take over people's social media accounts once logged in.

  • The malware also exfiltrates any other sensitive browser data.

Associated Scams

  • Scammers have used synthesized voices to impersonate loved ones as part of broader AI scams.

  • There has been an increase in AI-related scams as generative AI grows more popular.

Mitigating Risks

Precautions

  • Be skeptical of ads promoting early access to new AI products - they are likely fake.

  • Closely inspect domain names and sender addresses before downloading anything.

  • Use secure connections and avoid clicking links in emails/messages from unknown senders.

  • Only download software from official sources like the Google Play Store.

  • Run antivirus scans regularly to detect any malware infections.

Actions

  • Report fake ads and posts to social media platforms to help curb their spread.

  • Enable two-factor authentication on accounts to prevent unauthorized logins.

  • Change passwords immediately if credentials are suspected compromised.

  • Monitor financial accounts closely for any suspicious activity indicating identity theft.

  • Keep devices and software up-to-date to reduce vulnerability to malware.


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