Imposter Scams in the Age of AI
With the help of basic digital communication tools, bad actors can send emails and text messages that appear to originate from a trusted source. While phishing and smishing scams are nothing new, recent advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) are helping spread a new imposter scam faster than a nasty computer virus. Here’s what you should know about the latest AI-infused imposter scam.
How Scammers Use AI Technology
Scammers use AI voice cloning software to mimic familiar voices. They only need a small sampling of the original voice, which they can lift from online video or in-person recordings. It’s then fed into the software. Scripts are created that direct the voice to say whatever the scammer wants.
Whether via a recorded message or live phone call, the imposter expresses a desperate need and urges the target to send them money right away. For example, some fake callers claim they’ve been mugged, lost their wallet, or need money to escape a dire situation.
Since the computer-generated voice sounds exactly like someone the target trusts, they are more likely to respond without verifying the situation. Plus, some scammers spoof the phone number so the caller ID reflects the name and number of the person they falsely claim to be.
AI Voice Cloning Scam Red Flags
Even if the tone and texture of the voice are familiar, there are often subtle signs it might be a cloning scam. Be sure to listen for the following:
- Strange speech patterns or unnatural pauses. The caller might sound like they drank a gallon of coffee or just woke up from a long nap.
- Background noise that doesn’t match the stated situation. For example, the caller might say they are stranded in the middle of nowhere, but it sounds like they’re at a baseball game.
Protect Yourself from AI Voice Cloning Scams
One of the best ways to avoid this scam is to set up a secret password that close friends and loved ones can use in a real emergency. You could also ask questions whose correct answers are known only by you and the real caller. Don’t be afraid to hang up and verify the situation with shared friends or relatives.
If you suspect a scam, report it to the FTC.