AI impersonating distress phone calls

A robot machine touching a screen

It’s one thing to fall victim to email and text message scams, but now a new wave of cons is hitting unsuspecting victims.  Scammers are using artificial intelligence (AI) to sound like distressed family members.  People are falling for it and losing thousands of dollars.

A recent report from the Washington Post highlighted an elderly couple who had received such a call – the robot was impersonating their grandson, who claimed to be in jail with no phone or cash and needed money urgently.  Immediately, the couple went to the bank to make a partial withdrawal.  Only when they visited a second bank did the manager tell them he thought it was a hoax.  And it was.

Last year, over 36,000 people fell foul of calls impersonating family and friends in the US.  According to FTC officials, over 5,000 of these happened over the telephone resulting in a whopping $11 million being scammed from the victims.

When you’re faced with receiving such a distressing phone call, it’s hard to believe anything other than it being true, so your immediate reaction is to want to help.  But what can you do to protect yourself if you receive such a call? 
Just knowing that this is now one way scammers are targeting people is a good start. 

Asking a personal question to the caller might be one way to outsmart the AI. 
Another is to ask the caller about their current location.  If this doesn’t match what they’re saying, it should raise a red flag. 

If you have the means to call or text the person the caller claims to be from another device, and they answer, then you know you’re being duped.

If you’re in any doubt, raise the alarm with officials and let them investigate and guide you on how to proceed.   
With social media and Tik Tok so prevalent in today’s society, it’s not difficult to clone someone’s voice.  All that’s needed is a short video lasting 30 seconds, and your voice can be cloned.  It’s a frightening prospect when you consider social media being such a daily ritual for many. 

While these incidents are mainly occurring in the US, it won’t take long for it to hit British soil and impacting businesses and individuals locally in the Gatwick, Crawley and West Sussex region.  Be vigilant and if you have any IT concerns, please get in touch.  We’re here to help!