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Suspicious voices: Avoid AI voice scams

Such scams happen when scammers pretend to be family members in trouble and try to fool grandparents into giving away personal information.

Image: © Digital Journal
Image: © Digital Journal

AI may offer efficiency and assistance in your day-to-day activities, but it is also becoming a big threat to money, family, and identity. In particular, AI voice scams are increasing, with scammers using advanced technology to mimic your loved ones’ voices, automate phone scams, and deceive you into giving up money and sharing sensitive information.

Manas Chowdhury, VP of cloud security company AccuKnox, has told Digital Journal about the most common AI voice cloning and deepfake scams to watch out for this year and how to avoid them.

Fake kidnapping calls

Scammers go after families who are active online on social media. They mimic a child’s voice, call a parent, and lie about the child being kidnapped.

“To avoid such scams, choose a code word with your family members to confirm phone calls with each other. Another way would be to hang up the call and contact your family member’s number to check if it’s true. You can also ask them about specific memories only your loved ones would know. If they hesitate or give incorrect answers, it’s likely a scam,” says Chowdhury.

Grandparent calls

Such scams happen when scammers pretend to be family members in trouble and try to fool grandparents into giving away personal information and paying ransoms. Scammers pretend to be a grandchild in trouble with the law and urge grandparents to send money as soon as possible.

“Check whether the caller is really your family member by asking personal questions and calling other family members. If the caller asks for personal information, like your PIN or credit card number, or tells you to send money using wire transfers or gift cards, hang up the phone immediately,” recommends Chowdhury.

Emergency calls from friends

Fake emergency scams are like grandparent scams but target anyone, not just the elderly. These scams start with a fake phone call from someone pretending to be your friend. They gain your trust and then say they urgently need money for an emergency.Similar to grandparent scams, first try to confirm the caller’s identity and refuse to send any money through wire transfers, cryptocurrency, or gift cards.

“To combat this, you should create difficult security questions, as your bank will ask security questions before discussing your account on the phone. Additionally, consider using two-factor authentication, such as SMS codes and biometrics, as this makes it harder for scammers to get into your account. You can also set up notifications on your bank app, so that you know whenever someone logs in or tries to change your account,” Chowdhury recommends.

Fake celebrity endorsement videos

Scammers are using AI to make realistic videos of celebrities promoting products, like those from Apple or Amazon, which are fake or illegitimate. “You can identify deepfakes in celebrity videos by looking for any blurry spots or any sudden changes in the video quality, such as background or lighting. Additionally, if such videos sound too good, it’s probably a scam, so watch out. Another way to spot these scams is to research companies before buying anything,” advises Chowdhury.

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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