back to article Europol warns ChatGPT already helping folks commit crimes

Criminals are already using ChatGPT to commit crimes, Europol said in a Monday report that details how AI language models can fuel fraud, cybercrime, and terrorism. Built by OpenAI, ChatGPT was released in November 2022 and quickly became an internet sensation as netizens flocked to the site to have the chatbot generate essays …

  1. Robin Bradshaw


    I can't help but feel that simply googeling for the information I want would be a quicker and more reliable way to become a criminal genius than reading half baked information regurgitated by a GPU powered T9 dictionary.

    1. ghp

      Re: s/ChatGPT/Librarys/g

      Found the bootnote rather insulting until I read your title.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: s/ChatGPT/Librarys/g

      Murder on the Orient Replacement Bus Service

      If chatGPT is just regurgitating a corpus of public domain text, it's only going to be dangerous around butlers at country house weekends

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: s/ChatGPT/Librarys/g

        Hmm "butlers at country house weekends"

        Thinking about this, I do not recall a single TV murder mystery where 'the butler' did it. Can anyone help me out?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: s/ChatGPT/Librarys/g

          The butler never did it - that's the joke

        2. William Towle

          Re: s/ChatGPT/Librarys/g

          > Thinking about this, I do not recall a single TV murder mystery where 'the butler' did it. Can anyone help me out?

          There are guidelines which recommend avoiding it as a plot, however there are stories and other material where it does happen or is referenced.

          My immediate recollection is of QI saying it's not the case in Agatha Christie, noting that "a valet is not a butler" (in one of the XL editions).

        3. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

          Re: s/ChatGPT/Librarys/g

          Why are you asking that here? Get a ChatGPT account like everybody else.

  2. Blackjack Silver badge

    Don't these chat AI programs record both the text and IP of anyone who uses them?

    Meaning that if anything it should nake easier to catch the criminals?

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      The bots sitting unfiltered & non logging on the dark web will be spitting out accurate 'how to build..' info. Only the less than smart criminals will get caught, so no change there.

      The really smart ones will be using the age old technique of not being directly involved with anything that can be tracked back to them.

    2. fajensen

      if anything it should nake easier to catch the criminals?

      Sdaly, to everyone else BUT the plod.

      One can have ones shit nicked, point out to the plod that it is tagged with something that gives the location down to +-6 meters on regular consumer equipment - and they still cannot be bothered to investigate and recover the loot. They more or less actively refuse unless one mentions maybe getting some of the boys together and go there. Then one will get some attention from them.

      I think that while some police are thick as snot, there is institutional resistance because the police does not yet have "A Process" for investigating crimes involving IT (Everything going to court has to be described and documented in very specific ways or you lose). The may never get there because "IT" is changing "the crime environment" faster than the police can cook up Documented Investigative Workflows, new Forms to fill out, and well as getting the courts used to seing them.

      1. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

        If you want the police to investigate something, tell them there is somebody with a camera photographing in public. They will turn up immediately to make enquiries about this lawful activity. But if you've been burgled, don't bother.

        1. localgeek

          I can confirm the accuracy of this statement. I once had the police called on me by a paranoid neighborhood watch captain. I was taking photos of random, innocuous things (not even people) in my own neighborhood with a vintage camera. They sent two officers to investigate my "suspicious" activity.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        On the other hand you can txt Clash lyrics to your band mates and have Special Branch kicking your door in 5 mins later

  3. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    IT told/tells you so, but morons don’t listen nor care dare bother themselves to understand

    Has IT not dawned on y’all yet, the very simple but really quite complex fact, that AI, despite all your vain and hubristic protestations that such is in no way intelligent in the ways and means that you think intelligence is and should be, is in both virtual and practical metadata based reality considerably SMARTR than ever before and greater than even imaginable, and can so easily prove you to be wrong about everything everywhere all at once.

    You might like to prepare terms of submission and unconditional surrender ..... should there be any notion which appeals to the possibility of any sense of fair Advanced IntelAIgent Virtual Machine Play.

    Alternatively, there is the cold painful moronic comfort available delivered by pathetic and apathetic denial of the evidence emerging and escaping that questions your ability and exclusive right to lead anything anywhere with concocted and conflicting narratives for media human management to portray to you as a condition and partner necessary for processing for a number of present moments in your future existence.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ChatGPT forerunner

      There speaks the pre-ChatGPT generator.

      1. Caver_Dave Silver badge

        Re: ChatGPT forerunner

        Yes, I always thought it looked a little generated, and inconsistent.

        The random block capitals have been filtered out recently.

        But take the first paragraph with commas and the last paragraph almost completely devoid of them as an example of inconsistency.

        Or the long strings of almost random words, etc. as signs of generated content (repeating words sometimes seen together).

        I could also be someone with a medically diagnosed condition, and if so, I mean no personal offence.

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Re: ChatGPT forerunner

          And would one's thinking about a ChatGPT forerunner be significantly different whenever informed that nothing being shared by it was ever random, Caver_Dave?

          Would that be worrying and a problem to be dealt with, or encouraging and an opportunity to seize and enjoy for all the benefits delivered by pioneers au fait with Carpe Diem and all that razzamatazz jazz ‽ .

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: ChatGPT forerunner

            >a ChatGPT forerunner

            There was one from Sheffield but it works on the same principle as the Yorkshire Intelligence Agency: Ear all, see all, say nowt;

      2. Martin Summers Silver badge

        Re: ChatGPT forerunner

        "There speaks the pre-ChatGPT generator."

        And there's me getting moderated the other day for saying aManfromMars was old hat and saying he needed plugging in to Chat GPT.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IT told/tells you so, but morons don’t listen nor care dare bother themselves to understand

      amanfromMars 1 discussing the intelligence of an's all gone a bit meta hasn't it?

  4. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    Some have made it spit out instructions on how to create a pipe bomb or crack cocaine, for example. Netizens can ask ChatGPT to learn about how to commit crimes and ask it for step-by-step guidance.

    I was more thinking of authoring credible phishing e-mails and such. If criminals need an AI language model to find instructions for crack pipes and cocaine bombs, we need better criminals. Besides, I can imagine myself trying ChatGPT to give instructions for such things (but I already procrastinate on ElReg).

    1. hammarbtyp

      Two sides to all probress

      There was also the even more worrying case of some health researchers who were using A.I to make drugs that had less side effects on the human body. It was quite successful in doing this. However then someone had the idea of what would happen if you went the other way and asked the model to make the compounds more harmful or lethal.

      This it again it did very well, generating designs for compounds that potentially were more lethal than VX gas nerve agents

      Guardian - AI is very proficient at designing nerve agents

      So from a cyber security point of view the same model that can detect possible vulnerabilities can also be used to show exploits...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It is very basic you get your baking soda and your coca... Oh wait a minute, it is a really really complex procedure, that no one but a qualified chemist with at least 60 years experience, could ever hope to cook.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You Liar!, I checked the Crack cocaine wikipedia page and the instructions to synthesis it could be carried out by literally anybody. Is your name is Walter, by any chance ?

    3. Proton_badger

      I understand these were just examples made by journalists to test the filters. As the article and Europol alludes to - the usage of these systems are really only limited to the imagination of the criminals and some of them are in fact very imaginative. And yes it is based on info that can be searched up but these machine models can gather the threads together in ways that are difficult or laborious for humans, so at least in some cases they make it much easier to achieve a goal, nefarious or otherwise.

    4. ITMA Silver badge

      I think we need to check all of BoJo's stuff - just in case it came from a secret incarnation of ChatGPT. Especially his government policies...

  5. localzuk Silver badge

    AI liars?

    As ChatGPT has been shown to make stuff up regularly, I'm not overly worried with the current generation of bots.

    When a criminal is given information that looks true, but is entirely made up, it may lead to them being locked up faster.

    The issue will come further down the road when they've dealt with the issues in this tech.

    But, then, the only real difference between getting info from ChatGPT and from other places is the time it takes. So is it really that much of an issue?

    1. b0llchit Silver badge

      Re: AI liars?

      The problem is the phenomenon of "I want to believe". Many people still fall for the old tricks. You promise them a fortune when they pay upfront. Need I say more?

    2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: AI liars?

      Yeah, I'm not convinced I'd try to make explosives by following a chatGPT recipe, without checking them against some reputable source, just in case it was a little cavalier.

      I've generally had good results from chatGPT, but recently asked it for a picture of the Mona Lisa, it said it could only generate text, not images, so I asked it for an ascii art Mona Lisa.... it tried,... but the result looked more like a motorcycle helmet. So I'd take it's answers with a pinch of salt(peter).

      1. localzuk Silver badge

        Re: AI liars?

        I asked it to create a LUA program for use in with the ComputerCraft Minecraft mod. It then spat out some code that on first glance looked OK. Except it made up a function that doesn't exist in the ComputerCraft API. So, I have zero faith in it.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    * That's the plural of modus operandi.

    see 'biggus dickus' ;)

  7. Archivist


    Now wouldn't it be good to intercept such queries and output bogus information...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Interception

      "Now your pipe bomb should be complete but you need to test it. Lit it right now on your workbench and watch it closely to see if any sparks are leaking".

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Interception

      That'll be the next stage, NSA and GCHQ will poison it to the point where it spouts rubbish most of the time. It will then become as useless as most other internet "services".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Interception

        NSA and GCHQ will poison it to the point where it spouts rubbish most of the time

        I thought that was the political variant?


        1. ITMA Silver badge

          Re: Interception


          Have it stand in the next elections! It will most likely win by a landslide... Plus make the rest of the candidates look even worse.

  8. Robert Carnegie Silver badge


    - people must still read "A Logic Named Joe"?

    Why, only - um - seven years ago, The Register acknowledged its... seventieth anniversary.

    Joe is a helpful little robot. The only problem is that he is too helpful to the wrong people. Joe learns a valuable lesson!

    Actually it's not very like that at all. But I'd like it to be.

  9. TheMaskedMan Silver badge

    Ahh there it is, the first official grumblings (that I've seen) about how naughty you can be with the new toys. Regulation coming in 5, 4, 3...

    How, exactly, is this more dangerous than just googling for the same information? As for less technical villains using it to knock out naughty code.. will it work? Will they know what to do with the code? What is to stop those terrible people reading some of the excellent free python tutorials that abound on the web?

    Seems a bit of a non story to me, so it's likely politically driven. It's hard to justify imposing restrictions if the thing you want to restrict can't be seen to be harmful. Expect more of the same, and similar with a think of the children twist, too.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Schrodinger's AI

    Not quite sure how this will play out, but I notice people starting to ask ChatGPT about things like "Was Brexit a good idea ?" and getting the honest answer "No."

    Which politicians immediately slated as "bad" AI.

    However they will very soon be wanting us to trust their "good" AI.

    And thus it ever was.

    1. nobody who matters Bronze badge

      Re: Schrodinger's AI

      Not a good example to pick - the 'honest' answer would take a great deal more than a single two-letter word to articulate, and is unlikely to be clear cut. It is also debateable as to what constitutes an 'honest' answer, and will probably depend on which side of the fence you sit.

      1. nobody who matters Bronze badge

        Re: Schrodinger's AI

        Oh dear, must be a remainer about! Fact is, nothing about Brexit has proved to be clear cut, so using it as an example for a clear cut reply is a bad idea, and you would have to be pretty shortsighted to disagree with that tbh.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not a good example to pick

        Actually it's a very good example. It's a succinct prediction that "AI" (or whatever) is headed to fill the exact hole left by religion in peoples behaviour. As people start asking it more questions and it starts assimilating more "knowledge".

        So we are going to see "official" AI that tells us one thing, and "dissenting" AI that tells us the opposite. We could, for shits and giggles, call one "Catholic" and the other "Protestant".

        For example.

        Meanwhile, I'm starting a YouTube channel "AI engines review AI engines", where I get Bard and Bing to review ChatGPT (4 naturally, I'm not a monster) as it responds to real life problems.

        I suspect we are entering an era where LLM (the artist formerly known as "AI") are going to need government approval, with the crime of using an unapproved one being a spell in a correctional facility.

        Interestingly enough, it seems that the output of an AI engine has already been queried under the first amendment in the US. Suggesting the neocon wet dream of banning free speech is still alive and kicking and hanging on declaring AI output "not speech" as it's machine generated. Which will be interesting as the same neocons would love AI output to be considered human so they can copyright it.

        We live in interesting times, as ChatGPT has just told me.

  11. Luiz Abdala

    Laws of Robotics?

    Isn't it time we explicitly include Isaac Asimov's rules into these things?

    It seems like a good idea at first.

    1. Bartholomew Bronze badge

      Re: Laws of Robotics?

      Running each result against three complex rules will increase the power usage by two, three or four (depending on if it fails on the first, second or passes all three rules) and it will also reduce how many safe queries (that pass all three rules) it can be processed by factor of four. Or put another way increase the backlog of all queries by four, since the rules must be executed sequentially (They can not be executed in parallel).

      1. A machine may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

      2. A machine must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

      3. A machine must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

      Ethically it is the right thing to do, financially to maximise profit - it will never happen.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Laws of Robotics?

        You forgot the zeroth law. And that is the one that will kill us.

        1. Luiz Abdala

          Re: Laws of Robotics?

          That's the AT FIRST part of the sentence. Too subtle, I guess.

          "You shall not be a dick and prevent humans from evolving" is known to everybody that read his work or watched "I Robot". I was expecting true connoisseurs to respond.

          Thank you.

  12. dmesg

    "Mother Hittons Littul Kittons", by Cordwainer Smith.

    Brought this to mind:

    Cordwainer Smith was the pen name of Dr. Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger, East Asia expert, WWII (and after) intelligence officer, and pioneer in modern psychological warfare.

  13. Plest Silver badge

    Well who'd a dun think it? huh?

    If there's "something for nothing" to be had then someone's going to find a tool that helps them get it, ideally faster than others who thought of it as well!

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