ChatGPT now being used in dating apps to catfish users — what you need to know

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Even though many people are already using ChatGPT to gain an edge in their professional and personal lives, scammers have now found a way to use this AI tool to catfish users on dating apps.

According to a blog post from Avast, there’s a new romance scam making the rounds online that uses a tool called LoveGPT to create fake accounts on the best dating apps, bypass CAPTCHA, interact with users and more. 

It’s worth noting that this particular tool has been around for over a decade. However, it wasn’t until a few months ago that an integration to OpenAI’s chatbot was added to it. This new integration took the tool to a whole new level which is why Avast’s security researchers have decided to give it the name LoveGPT.

With ChatGPT’s ability “to produce eerily authentic-sounding conversations”, the tool can now be used to discuss favorite movies, empathize with daily struggles and even share fictional memories as a means to trick potential victims into believing they’re chatting with a real person instead of a chatbot. 

If you’re single and frequently use dating apps to meet new people, here’s everything you need to know about LoveGPT, including some helpful tips so you can know for sure whether you just matched with a person or an AI.

Casting a wide net

Based on Avast’s analysis of the code powering LoveGPT, the cybersecurity firm believes its creator hails from Vietnam as the program contains several Vietnam-related strings, functions and other references.

The main module that powers LoveGPT contains several functionalities to help it interact with users including the ability to read inboxes, browse information about matches, send likes, store active cookies in a database and more. It also has three different ChatGPT buttons which make use of the chatbot’s ability to generate text.

So far, LoveGPT is able to target users on 13 different dating and discovery platforms which include Ashley Madison, Badoo, Bumble, Craigslist, DuyenSo (a Vietnamese dating app), Facebook Dating, (a Vietnamese social network and dating platform), MeetMe, OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, Tagged, Tinder and Zoosk. However, other dating apps and platforms can easily be added to the tool in the future.

LoveGPT is able to create fake accounts by getting through CAPTCHA and verifying phone numbers. It can also create fake email addresses, usernames and passwords for these accounts.

What makes LoveGPT particularly troubling is that it even includes several components to help it remain anonymous online. This makes it harder for companies operating dating platforms to detect its presence while also preventing users from realizing they’ve been catfished.

How to stay safe when using online dating apps

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Identifying LoveGPT outright can be difficult, but Avast has several recommendations for dating app users that don’t want to waste their time and even possibly get scammed while talking with a chatbot online.

For starters, if a conversation feels too good to be true or if a profile looks a little too polished, you should do some digging to verify whether the person you’re chatting with really is who they say they are. For instance, a quick reverse image search can reveal if a profile picture is borrowed from somewhere else online.

At the same time, you want to remain vigilant when it comes to other users on dating apps that ask for your personal information or seem too eager to share their own stories. Just like on the rest of the web, you want to avoid sharing any personal details in dating apps such as your home address, workplace or financial information.

While the best antivirus software can help keep you safe from malware infections that result from romance scams, the best identity theft protection can aid you in regaining any money lost to fraud after falling victim to a scam.

LoveGPT looks like it may just be the tip of the iceberg and it’s quite possible we’ll see chatbots like ChatGPT and Google Bard abused further in scams going forward. This is why you always need to remain vigilant online or risk falling for a scam like this one yourself.

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Anthony Spadafora
Senior Editor Security and Networking

Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.