CryptoRom scammers exploit AI to target iPhone and Android users

Fraudsters, infamous for pushing crypto scams through popular dating apps, are now using a ChatGPT-like tool to defraud iPhone and Android users.

CryptoRom scams, also known as pig butchering scams, involve a crook faking a romantic interest in their victim. In some cases, criminals cultivate longterm relationships with victims to eventually lure them into making cryptocurrency investments. Needless to say, the funds end up in the swindler’s pockets.

Recently, CryptoRom scammers have been relying on AI tools such as ChatGPT for easier and more effective fraud.

“One of the main challenges for fraudsters with CryptoRom scams is carrying out convincing, sustained conversations of a romantic nature with targets. These conversations are mostly written by ‘keyboarders,’ who are primarily based out of Asia and have a language barrier,” said Sean Gallagher, principal threat researcher at Sophos.

Now, by tapping into tools like ChatGPT, scammers can keep fluent conversations going, making the scams “less labor intensive and more authentic. It also enables keyboarders to simultaneously engage with multiple victims at one time.”

What’s more, crooks are able to wrangle more money by telling victims that their crypto accounts have been hacked and more upfront is needed to make an investment.

“Traditionally, when victims of CryptoRom scams attempt to cash in on their “profits,” fraudsters will tell them they need to pay a 20% tax on their funds before completing any withdrawals. However, a recent victim revealed that after paying the “tax” to withdraw money, the fraudsters said the funds had been “hacked” and they would need another 20% deposit before receiving the funds,” Gallagher explained.

Scammers have upped the potential for finding victims by sneaking seven new fake cryptocurrency investment apps into the official Apple App and Google Play stores.

Gallagher believes that criminals trick the official store operators to approve the apps by submitting the app for approval using legitimate, run-of the-mill web content. Once the app is approved by, let’s say, Apple Store, criminals modify the server hosting the app with code for the fraudulent interface.

“While we've alerted Google and Apple to these latest apps, it’s likely that more will pop up. These fraudsters are ruthless. Today, they’re telling victims their accounts have been hacked to extort more money, but in the future, they’re likely to think of new methods of initial and double extortion,” he added.

Last year, victims lost nearly $2.6 billion to frauds involving cryptocurrency, including pig butchering scams.