Chinese authorities have arrested four people for developing ransomware with the help of OpenAI’s AI chatbot ChatGPT, the first such case in the country.

ChatGPT is not officially available in the country and Beijing has been cracking down on foreign-based AI tech, reports the South China Morning Post.

The attack was reported by an unidentified company in Hangzhou, capital of eastern Zhejiang province, which had its systems blocked by ransomware.

The hackers demanded 20,000 Tether, a cryptocurrency stablecoin pegged one-to-one to the US dollar, to restore access, according to Xinhua news agency.

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The police arrested two suspects in Beijing and two others in Inner Mongolia, who admitted to “writing versions of ransomware, optimizing the program with the help of ChatGPT, conducting vulnerability scans, gaining access through infiltration, implanting ransomware, and carrying out extortion.”

OpenAI has blocked internet protocol addresses in China, Hong Kong, and sanctioned markets like North Korea and Iran.

“Some users get around restrictions using virtual private networks (VPNs) and a phone number from a supported region,” according to the report.

In May, police in northwestern Gansu province arrested a man who allegedly used ChatGPT to generate fake news about a train crash and disseminated it online.

In August, Hong Kong police arrested six people who used deepfake technology to create fake images of identification documents used for loan scams targeting banks.

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