AI can 'mimic voices' of loved ones – it’s being used as a scam, FCC warns


'Often the imposter claims to have been in an accident or arrested. The scammer may ask the grandparent ‘please don’t let mom and dad know,’ and may hand the phone over to someone posing as a lawyer seeking immediate payment,' the FCC said. — Image by rawpixel.com on Freepik

People are getting phone calls that say they’re from a family member. It even sounds like them. But the Federal Communications Commission is warning it could be a scam.

“Unfortunately, bad actors can now use artificial intelligence technology ‘to mimic voices, convincing people, often the elderly, that their loved ones are in distress,’ according to a recent Washington Post article,” the FCC said in a statement.

The news outlet reported AI can take an audio sample of just a few sentences and turn it into a full audio recording for “cheap.” The scammer can then make it “speak” whatever they type, the Post reported.

The Sharon Police Department previously warned in Massachusetts that calls that appear to be from the doctor’s office could be a scam. The phone numbers are “spoofed” to look real by appearing as the doctor’s office in the person’s caller ID.

“Spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity,” the Federal Communications Commission states. “Scammers often use neighbour spoofing so it appears that an incoming call is coming from a local number, or spoof a number from a company or a government agency that you may already know and trust.”

Combining the two tools, the FCC is warning this is an elevated “grandparent scam.”

“Often the imposter claims to have been in an accident or arrested. The scammer may ask the grandparent ‘please don’t let mom and dad know,’ and may hand the phone over to someone posing as a lawyer seeking immediate payment,” the FCC said.

But it’s not just happening to grandparents — or even those bad at technology.

“It looked exactly like my sister was calling,” Beth Royce shared on TikTok, stating she answered the phone because her sister’s contact popped up.

But on the other end a man was screaming at her and a woman was crying in the background. He asked for money.

“I’m not an idiot. I’m so good at spotting fishing emails,” she explained. But this, she said, sounded real.

Royce said she sent the man money.

“I was terrified he was going to kill my sister,” she said in the video.

While she was on the phone, her mom called the police then tried to call the daughter who they thought might be kidnapped.

“And my little sister picked up,” she explained. It was all a scam.

More than seven million people have watched her video. Bringing awareness to these types of calls is “one of the best deterrents against scam artists,” the FCC said.

The FCC also warned people to not send a caller money.

“If you get a call like this, hang up and report it immediately to local law enforcement,” the FCC said. “To ease your mind, you can also call or text your family members directly to make sure they’re not in trouble.” – masslive.com/Tribune News Service

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