AI Scams: How New Technology is Reinvigorating Old Scams

Scammers are always on the lookout for new ways to deceive and exploit. But sometimes, new technology can breathe life into seemingly “outdated” scams. Scammers have begun turning to Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to reinvigorate popular scams from ten years ago. 

From the emotionally manipulative grandparent scam to the heart-wrenching romance scam, AI is being leveraged to target vulnerable individuals with unprecedented sophistication. While we know the actions to avoid the old versions of these scams, we need to revisit how to protect ourselves against these high-tech schemes. 

The Grandparent scam 

A few years ago, warnings about the Grandparent Scam dominated the news. In this scheme, fraudsters would call senior citizens on the phone pretending to be their grandchild in trouble. The “grandchild” would ask their grandparent to wire money to help get them out of the situation. Of course, however, the voice on the other hand was not their grandchild.

This scam was successful despite one major red flag—the “grandchild’s” voice wasn’t their voice—it was another person. But the scam played on emotions so grandparents would overlook the fact that it didn’t sound like their grandchild and would often send the money. But now, scammers can replicate voices using AI programs. Typically, these programs only need 3 seconds of a recording to duplicate a voice. If a teenager has posted a video on social media, the scammer can use that to create a fake recording and then call their grandparent. We have already seen this scam being reported in the news. 

Action: How can families protect themselves from this scam? Consider creating a password. Decide on a word that you would use on the phone in any emergency to let the family member on the other side of the phone know it is you. 

Romance scams 

Scammers have unfortunately preyed on individuals looking for love for years by creating fake online personas. They begin conversing with unsuspecting individuals and form a romantic connection. Then they begin asking for money. 

Scammers are now using AI technology to take this catfishing scam to the next level. They can create fake video clips replicating the likeness of another person. They can also use technology to change their facial features in live Zoom meetings. 

Action: You must always be careful conversing with people online, especially when they ask for money. You can do a Google reverse image search to help spot a deepfake.

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