Google Sues Over Fake AI Download

John Lister's picture

Google has launched sets of two legal cases against scammers. The cases involve artificial intelligence tools and copyright claims, though could have wider implications for malicious online activity as a whole.

The first case is against scammers who are trying to take advantage of interest in generative AI tools that can "create" text and images. They've made online posts and ads encouraging people to download Google's AI tool, Bard.

The problem is that Bard isn't something you've downloaded, but rather an online service accessed through a website. What victims are actually downloading is simply malware that uses some creative techniques.

Scammers Target Ad Buyers

One such technique is to give the user an "installation code." In reality, the installation code is a password (of sorts) to an encrypted file; once the password is entered, the file which contains a malware payload is decrypted (thereby completely sidestepping antivirus programs); following that, it is executed and installed on the victim's device. Sneaky? Oh, yes.

Another technique is that the malware not only tries to scrape login details for social media accounts, but also looked for information such as how many followers the account has and whether it is a business account and has any pre-payment arrangement for online ads. That's almost certain to let the scammers identify accounts that would be most profitable to hijack, for example, by setting them to pay for bogus ads. (Source:

Google is using several legal tactics in lawsuits against the scammers, including alleging trademark infringement in ads for the bogus downloads and breaches of competition law. It also wants judges to tell domain registrars to block the domain names used by the scammers. That wouldn't take the websites offline but would make them harder to access in the United States.

Copyright Takedowns

Ironically Google's other set of cases deal with copyright takedowns from the opposing perspective. It's suing businesses it says deliberately set up Google accounts to flood it with bogus copyright claims against their rivals.

Perhaps surprisingly, Google is conceding that many of these claims work (and thus that its takedown procedure isn't accurate). It says it delisted more than 100,000 websites based on the false claims, meaning they no longer showed up in Google searches. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Have you spotted any ads claiming to offer Bard as a download? Should domains be blocked if they point to a website with malicious or scam content? Has Google been too quick to delist websites based on copyright claims?

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Dennis Faas's picture

You have to skim though the PDF to see just how involved this scam is (link provided in article, but not so obvious, so I'm putting it here):

Hats off to the scammers for putting in so much effort.

I hope Google bankrupts them and they serve life in prison!