Over the years, the development of artificial intelligence (AI) has resulted in the widespread adoption of chatbots and voice-cloning technology. Although these innovations have multiple lawful applications, they have also facilitated scammers executing fraudulent activities through AI-based scams.
One example of this is the rise of “deepfake” scams. Deepfakes use AI-powered voice-cloning and video technology to create audio and video that sounds like a real person recorded. Even worst, they can mimic someone you know, making these scams even more personal. Criminals can use this technology to impersonate anyone, including your grandchild, a police officer, or even your spouse, making it difficult to detect the scam and improving their capacity to trick individuals.
Scammers can easily use voice-cloning technology to create a convincing impersonation of a child with just a few seconds of their audio. They can obtain this audio from sources such as TikTok or Instagram videos. With this new technology, criminals can manipulate their target into taking action, such as sending money or sensitive information.
Jennifer DeStefano reported receiving a call claiming that her 15-year-old daughter, Briana, was being held by kidnappers demanding ransom money. DeStefano reassured everyone that her daughter was safe, but she was still shaken up because the voice sounded identical to Briana’s. She believed that the AI was responsible for the uncanny resemblance.
According to a report by Symantec, deepfake audio scams increased by 350% between 2019 and 2020. The report also found that 85% of companies surveyed had experienced some form of deepfake audio attack.
Chatbots are another tool that scammers are using to perpetrate fraud. These AI-powered tools can simulate human conversation and can be used to trick people into divulging sensitive information or taking some other action. One example is using chatbots to impersonate customer service representatives for banks or other financial institutions. Scammers can use these chatbots to collect login credentials or additional sensitive information from unsuspecting victims.
A report from Juniper Research predicts that chatbots will contribute to more than $112 billion in retail sales by 2023. While many of these sales will be legitimate, there is a growing concern that scammers will use chatbots to perpetrate fraud.
In addition to these specific examples, the overall trend is clear: AI-powered scams are rising. A report from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reveals that the number of reported fraud cases involving technology-based scams increased by 69% from 2019 to 2020. The report also found that the amount of money lost to these scams rose by 50%, from $1.9 billion to $3.3 billion.
AI-powered scams are increasing because they are easy to carry out. Chatbots and deepfake audio technology are relatively easy to use and require minimal technical expertise, and this means that even individuals with limited resources can engage in these scams.
Another reason for the rise in AI-powered scams is the growing sophistication of these technologies. As AI technology advances, creating convincing deepfakes and chatbots that can fool even the most discerning individuals becomes easier.
Companies and governments are turning to various solutions to combat the rise of AI-powered scams. One approach is to invest in better fraud detection technologies. For example, some companies use AI tools to analyze customer interactions and identify potential fraud.
Another approach is to educate the public about the risks of AI-powered scams. Many organizations, including the FTC, have launched public awareness campaigns to help people recognize and avoid these scams.
Regulation is also playing a role in addressing the rise of AI-powered scams. In 2019, California passed a law that makes it illegal to use deepfake audio or video to deceive or defraud someone, and other states and countries are considering similar legislation.
In today’s world, the increasing threat of AI-powered scams has become a significant cause of worry for people, organizations, and governments across the globe. To avoid falling victim to fraudulent activities, it’s crucial to remain vigilant and implement the necessary precautions. Scammers are taking advantage of chatbots and deepfake audio and video technology to commit fraud more easily. Unfortunately, this trend is expected to continue. While there’s no one solution to stop it, a combination of improved fraud detection technology, public education, and regulation may help to reduce the risks associated with these scams. In the interim, if you get a call from your child or someone you know, your best defense is to call them and ask.