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AI Voice Scams on the Rise

Posted on Friday, April 7, 2023
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by AMAC, D.J. Wilson
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AI Voice Scams: The Hidden Cost of Technological Progress

Technology is our friend. Machines can accomplish incredible tasks, such as performing math calculations at rapid speed. This can help humans push productivity and renders work like tracking information and communicating simple. In fact, it’s never been easier to connect with people. But technological advances come at a cost. Issues like privacy and crime come to mind. Focusing on the latter, AI voice scams are on the rise. This involves phishing, a form of fraud in which an attacker masquerades as a reputable entity via some type of communication. Know that when you answer your phone, the voice on the other end could be a recording. Now scammers can make that voice sound like someone you know.

AI is the abbreviation for artificial intelligence – intelligence demonstrated by machines as opposed to humans or other living beings. Artificial intelligence is often beneficial and helps people deal with large amounts of data. For example, AI can be used to sort through applicants and monitor or detect fraud in various industries. Call centers can also use artificial intelligence. They may use VCA, or virtual customer assistance, to respond to customer inquiries. While those uses are favorable, AI can also be misused. Currently, the Federal Trade Commission is warning that scam artists have the capability to secretly record people’s voices for the purpose of posing as the potential victim’s relatives to make demands.

How AI Voice Scams Work

In a current sophisticated scheme, scammers take a short sample of a person’s voice (e.g., using an audio snippet from TikTok) and use technology to convert it into what they want it to say. Alarmingly, scammers can produce convincing audio that sounds just like the real person whose voice was stolen. Then scammers use the audio to trick people. Here’s a sample of this scam in action: A potential victim receives a phone call from a panicked yet familiar voice. The familiar sounding caller explains that they have been in a bad car accident. Then they ask you to deliver bail money. In this scam, the voice sounds just like someone you know, perhaps a daughter or granddaughter in this example. However, it is not really them. Rather, it is a convincing voice clone.

Don’t Trust Your Ears

It’s hard to believe that someone calling you might not be the real person. But these scams are increasing and people who answer the phone are being cautioned not to simply trust the voice. Should  you receive a phone call from a family member experiencing some type of sudden emergency or financial distress, it’s best to confirm that it’s really them. The best thing to do is call them back on a phone number you have stored for them under their contacts. This enables you to verify whether the story is accurate. Never redial the caller or call back a number given to you. If you cannot reach the party you are seeking, have another family member or friend help you to contact them.

Taking Action

Voice impersonation takes scamming to a whole new level, so it’s important for people to be on guard. Do not answer unfamiliar numbers. If you do answer an unfamiliar number, let the caller speak first as your voice can also provide an audio sample to the caller. Families are also encouraged to create an emergency password that only they know. (Never share this word with others.)  If the password is unmentioned during an emergency call, it may indicate that it is not an authentic call.  Also note that calls which involve demands, such as pleas for wire transfers, cash payments, cryptocurrency, or gift cards, signal scams. As always, thefts or threats of harm, including ransom and kidnapping schemes, should be reported to the police immediately.

 

Learn more about scams in the AMAC Blog!

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