HomeTop StoriesPhone scammers use artificial intelligence to mimic voices

Phone scammers use artificial intelligence to mimic voices

Phone scams are nothing new, but thanks to artificial intelligence, they are growing in popularity more refined and credible.

Jennifer Destefano will never forget the frantic phone call from her 15-year-old daughter Brianna.

“She says, ‘Mom, these bad men got me, help me, help me, help me,'” Destefano said. “And this guy gets really aggressive, ‘Listen, I got your daughter.’ And then I went into panic mode.”

That man demanded $1 million.

“I said that wasn’t possible, so then he came up with $50,000,” Destefano said.

She never paid the money and would soon learn that the call was a popular AI scam, where people use new software to mimic the voices of loved ones in need. Scammers then ask for large sums of money.

“A voice is like a fingerprint. So that’s that unique fingerprint that is being exploited and weaponized,” Destefano said. “It has to stop.”

Americans lost nearly $9 billion to fraud last year alone, an increase of more than 150% in just two years, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

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“Younger people are more likely to experience fraud and losses from fraud than older people,” said Kathy Stokes, AARP director of fraud prevention. “But it’s that older adult who has so much to lose.”

Cybersecurity expert Pete Nicoletti created the voice of CBS News’ Carter Evans from old news stories found online.

“Hey, this is Carter. I need your credit card number now,” said the mock voice—something Evans himself never said.

The fake Evans voice was tested on his own mother.

“Hey, I’m about to do an interview, but I have a quick question: I want you to text me your driver’s license number ASAP,” Evans’ AI-generated voice said through the phone.

His mother fell for it. The real Evans then called her to explain. She said the fake voice’s accuracy was “scary.”

“We live in a post-real society,” Nicoletti said. “You can’t trust the voice. You can’t trust the photo and you can’t trust the video anymore.”

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