Voice Scammed

Over the years we've grown skeptical about text messages and unknown callers. Unsolicited calls informing us our car's warranties are expiring are a joke now and it is becoming well known that Amazon and the like will not contact you to refund your money. But the scammers are always one step ahead and voice AI muddies the waters. In essence, scammers are cloning the voice of someone you know, then contacting you saying they need money. And people are falling for it. Pranshu Verma at the Washington Post has more of this fascinating way scammers are working their new angle.

[Ruth] Card, 73, and her husband, Greg Grace, 75, dashed to their bank in Regina, Saskatchewan, and withdrew 3,000 Canadian dollars ($2,207 in U.S. currency), the daily maximum.

They hurried to a second branch for more money. But a bank manager pulled them into his office: Another patron had gotten a similar call and learned the eerily accurate voice had been faked, Card recalled the banker saying. The man on the phone probably wasn’t their grandson.

That’s when they realized they’d been duped.

“We were sucked in,” Card said in an interview with The Washington Post. “We were convinced that we were talking to Brandon.”

Washington Post (Payall Bypassed)

Brandon, their grandson was not in any peril or danger. What did happen was Brandon's voice was cloned using an AI that was able to use a small snippet of his voice to generate any speech the scammers needed. For most of our lives we've been taught that if something is too good to be true, it generally is. We also know to trust those we care about and let our guard down. Scammers know putting people into a state of panic helps the scam go through (like the IRS scams). Back then an unknown person putting pressure on someone could backfire. But when it's a family member? We react before we think. And that's what they're banking on.

It all comes down to the tried and true mantra of "trust, but verify." So if the phone rings and it's a family member saying they need money ASAP, hang up and call them on their number. Verify the story. Your life savings may depend on it.