Tech giant Google filed a lawsuit on Monday in a U.S. District Court in San Jose, California, against entities it claims attempted to use copyright laws and the hype around artificial intelligence to scam the public on Facebook.
According to court documents posted online by Reuters, the scammers used social media and fake ads that used Google’s logo to trick unsuspecting victims into downloading malware under the pretext of downloading the latest version of Bard, Google’s flagship artificial intelligence platform. The filing only specified —two unnamed persons or groups.
“The first sought to exploit public enthusiasm for generative AI to spread malware,” the company said in a post. “The second weaponized the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to harm their business competitors by submitting thousands of blatantly fraudulent copyright notices.”
In the filing, Google said the scammers advertised themselves as “Google AI,” “AIGoogle,” “AiGoogle,” “AIGoogle.Plus,” “AIGoogle Bard FB,” “AIGoogleBard” on Facebook. Along with the deceptive ads, the fake Google social media posts included fake emails and domain names, including gbard-ai.info and gg-bard-ai.com.
“To increase the likelihood of confusion, defendants use Google’s proprietary typeface and colors similar to Google’s multicolor sequence, as well as images that appear to be from Google speaking events or which depict Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai,” attorneys for Google said.
The lawsuit was filed, Google said, to disrupt the scheme, raise public awareness, and stop the scammers from causing further harm. Google is demanding a jury trial against the defendants.
“Today’s actions are part of our ongoing legal strategy to protect consumers and small businesses, and establish needed legal precedents in emerging fields of innovation,” Google said. “Clear rules against frauds, scams, and harassment are important—no matter how novel the setting—and we’re committed to doing our part to protect the people who use the internet from abuse.”
A Google spokesperson declined to comment on the case, instead pointing Decrypt to the company’s post on the lawsuit.
Instead of running Bard, victims would run an installer for malicious code.
“The malware is designed to access and send the users’ social media login credentials to defendants, who then access the social media accounts using the stolen credentials,” Google’s attorneys wrote in the lawsuit. “As explained below, defendants target users with business and advertiser accounts on a large social media platform, often small businesses.”
According to Google, while they do not know the identity of the individuals involved, the scammers appear to be based in Vietnam and behind a “prevalent” malware campaign to steal social media credentials with servers in Los Angeles, California.
Because of the rapid advances in artificial intelligence, cybercriminals have utilized the technology to create more sophisticated online scams. Law enforcement agencies have sounded the alarm, alerting the public to a rise in extortion using AI deepfakes.
Last month, cybersecurity firm SlashNext reported that the number of phishing emails has jumped 1265% since the launch of ChatGPT.
“While there has been some debate about the true influence of generative AI on cybercriminal activity, we know from our research that threat actors are leveraging tools like ChatGPT to help write sophisticated, targeted business email compromises and other phishing messages,” SlashNext CEO Patrick Harr previously told Decrypt.
Edited by Ryan Ozawa.