The cybersecurity firm Sophos spotted the latest round of this with fake ChatGPT apps in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store that are free to download, but then hammer users with ads until they pay a subscription to remove them (via Wired).
What is fleeceware?
Unlike some of the other fake ChatGPT apps we've seen, these aren't malware, but rather fleeceware. The only malicious thing that's happening is the app trying to separate you from your money via a subscription to remove the ads that it hounds you with after downloading and installing the app for free.
While you may be thinking that you would just uninstall the app immediately, not everyone is as clear-headed, according to a report from SensorTower at least one of these apps cleared over a million dollars in the last month. The apps and subscription prices vary, but in the end, it's all the same, each one is charging for something that you can otherwise use for free on your phone.
The sinister 6
These are the six apps that were identified by Sophos, all of them have since been removed from the App Store and Google Play, but the team is certain that there are more out there. If you have any of these apps installed on your phone they don't automatically trigger a charge, but you should still delete them.
- AI Chat - Chatbot AI Assistant
- AI Chatbot - Ask AI Assistant
- AI Chatbot - Open Chat Writer
- AI Chat GBT - Open Chatbot App
- Genie - AI Chatbot
- Open Chat GBT - AI Chatbot App
Use ChatGPT for free
While there are legitimate paid apps that utilize ChatGPT, if you are just looking to try the service for yourself you don't have to pay for it. We've walked you through how to sign up for ChatGPT or if you are a Bing fan you can even use the more advanced GPT-4 for free with Bing AI Chat.
There is no official ChatGPT app currently, but the service will work just fine in your mobile browser. So once you have signed up you can just navigate to https://chat.openai.com/ on Chrome, Safari, or whatever your browser of choice might be and test the internet's favorite AI chatbot to your heart's content for free.
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Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more. Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.