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Artificial Intelligence – Friend or Foe?

  • Other Scams
May 1, 2024|by Payback Team
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The rise of AI has brought many benefits and positive changes to everyday life as we know it. These tools can be helpful, educational, and entertaining, so their popularity is more than understandable. However, just as there are positives to these marvels of technology, there is a dark side as well.

AI’s integration into criminal activities is nothing new but as AI keeps getting smarter, so do the scammers who use the technology. This is why it’s more important than ever to stay on top of what’s going on and so, we’re taking a deep dive into AI-powered scams and why you should keep your guard up.

Understanding The Technology

AI is smart, there is a reason why it’s called artificial intelligence after all. Those who are abusing this technology are able to scour the internet at unprecedented speeds and masquerade as almost anyone they want to. This makes scams faster, more sophisticated, and harder to figure out.

There are two main AI tricks scammers have in their tool belts: voice cloning and deepfaking. With the right tools, a scammer can capture only a few seconds of someone’s voice or likeness and generate convincing clones.

These clones can do much more than just say words with a robotic voice. They’re able to generate seemingly real emotions, and scammers use this to manipulate their victims into believing a family member or loved one needs help, often in the form of an urgent money transfer.

Copying not only someone’s voice but also their likeness is a process known as deepfaking, and it’s becoming very widespread. This is a step above voice cloning and it can be used to create very convincing videos.

Now that you understand how it works, let’s go over some of the most common AI-powered scams.

Family Emergency Scams

As humans, we have an instinct to protect our family members and loved ones, which is something scammers prey on. With the advanced technology they can use, many scammers are tricking people into believing they’re a family member going through a crisis.

In these situations, the unsuspecting victims hear the voice or even see the face of one of their loved ones, and they’re quick to send however much money the scammer is asking for. It can be hard to think rationally in times of crisis and worry, which is something scammers use to their advantage whenever and however they can, 

Celebrity Endorsement Scams

In this day and age, when influencer marketing is one of the most powerful tools any company can use, an endorsement from a celebrity can skyrocket sales. And thanks to deepfaking, some companies are using this to their advantage and are scamming people into thinking they have a famous person’s seal of approval.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk was a target of one such AI-generated deepfake scam not long ago. His likeness was used to create a highly believable endorsement scam. This scam consisted of a video during which the deepfake Musk announced a new “project” by the name of Quantum AI on Fox News. But of course, it wasn’t really Musk, it was just his likeness, being used for a scam.

Some other examples of this occurring are when Scarlett Johansson was used to promote the Lisa AI App and Tom Hanks was used in a dental plan advertisement. None of these celebrities have agreed to these ads, yet many people have invested money or purchased products just because of them.

Virtual Kidnapping

Virtual kidnapping sounds like something out of a Sci-Fi movie, but as AI technologies are becoming more advanced, so are these scams. 

With deepfaking and voice cloning, many people have been convinced that a loved one was kidnapped and ended up paying large sums of money when in fact nobody was in danger.

Perhaps one of the more outlandish cases of this particular AI-powered scam is the attempted virtual kidnapping that occurred in Arizona in April 2023. A woman by the name of Jennifer DeStefano received an anonymous call from a person claiming to have kidnapped her teenage daughter.

What made the situation chilling was that DeStefano could hear her daughter’s cries and yells in the background. Luckily, she managed to get in touch with her daughter and confirm she was safe and sound without paying the scammer the requested $1 million ransom.

Even though this case had a happy ending, not all of them did. Many people have fallen for this scam, especially senior citizens who have no idea this type of technology even exists. 

The Bottom Line

Navigating this AI-fueled storm of intelligent scams is becoming a real hassle and as the evolution of this technology rises, so do the strategies of cybercriminals and scammers. This is why staying informed and on guard is more important than ever.

Hopefully, you won’t be a target of these types of scams and even if you are, you’ll be able to recognize them for what they are. But even if the worst happens, you can always come to us and we’ll right the wrongs that were committed.

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