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July 2023

An Emergency Call from a Family Member? It Could Be an AI Voice Scam

You get a call. There’s a panicked voice on the line. It’s your grandson. He says he’s in deep trouble — he wrecked the car and landed in jail. But you can help by sending money. You take a deep breath and think. You’ve heard about grandparent scams. But it sounds just like him. How could it be a scam?

Voice cloning, that’s how.

It’s no surprise that this technique is gaining momentum. A scammer could use AI to clone the voice of your loved one. All he needs is a short audio clip of your family member’s voice — which he could get from content posted online — and a voice-cloning program. When the scammer calls you, he’ll sound just like your loved one.

Be cautious when receiving unexpected phone calls or messages. If a call is suspicious, end the call and contact your friend/family member/colleague directly or call someone else who can confirm the situation.

Scammers ask you to pay or send money in ways that make it hard to get your money back. If the caller says to wire money, send cryptocurrency, or buy gift cards and give them the card numbers and PINs, those could be signs of a scam.

To protect yourself from AI voice scams, don’t overshare your personal experiences in online spaces such as social media because it can enable scammers to add believability to their lies. You can limit how much you share your voice and/or video online and/or set your social media accounts to private instead of public.

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