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Bitdefender Uncovers Cybercriminals Exploiting Facebook Ads to Promote Fake AI Tools

Cybersecurity researchers from Bitdefender have uncovered a troubling trend where cybercriminals exploit Facebook’s advertising platform to promote counterfeit versions of popular generative AI tools, including OpenAI’s Sora, DALL-E, ChatGPT 5, and Midjourney. These fraudulent Facebook ads aim to deceive unsuspecting users into downloading malware-infected software, resulting in the theft of sensitive personal information.

The hackers hijack legitimate Facebook pages of well-known AI tools like Midjourney to impersonate these services, making false claims about exclusive access to new features. The malicious ads direct users to join related Facebook communities, where they are encouraged to download supposed “desktop versions” of the AI tools. However, these downloads contain Windows executables packed with harmful viruses like Rilide, Nova, Vidar, and IceRAT, capable of stealing stored credentials, cryptocurrency wallet data, and credit card details for illicit use.

This cybercrime scheme extends beyond fake ads and hijacked pages; it involves setting up multiple websites to avoid suspicion and using platforms like GoFile to distribute malware through fake Midjourney landing pages. Bitdefender’s analysis revealed that hackers specifically targeted European Facebook users, with a significant fake Midjourney page amassing 1.2 million followers before being shut down on March 8, 2024. These scams reached users across countries like Sweden, Romania, Belgium, Germany, and others, primarily targeting European males aged 25-55.

Bitdefender’s report also exposed the cybercriminals’ comprehensive distribution network for malware, known as Malware-as-a-Service (MaaS), enabling anyone to conduct sophisticated attacks, including data theft, online account compromise, ransom demands after encrypting data, and fraudulent activities.

This case mirrors previous incidents, such as Google’s lawsuit against scammers in 2023 for using fake ads to spread malware. In that instance, scammers posed as official Google channels to entice users into downloading purported AI products, highlighting a broader trend of exploiting trusted platforms for illicit gains.

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