The advent of AI-generated voices has raised many concerns amongst the public. People can possibly use this technology to scam or frame others for crimes. Today’s story is a particularly heinous case of scamming that embodies everything AI detractors fear.
Earlier this year, Arizona resident Jennifer DeStefano received a call that altered her life. The voice on the other end sounded just like that of her daughter Brie’s: “Mom! I messed up,” it screamed.
Why Was Someone Using an AI-Generated Version of DeStefano’s Voice?
The attack of AI! ‘Mom, these bad men have me': She believes scammers cloned her daughter's voice in a fake kidnapping – CNN https://t.co/95mHFGbaZw— sheryl lee ralph (@thesherylralph) April 29, 2023
The cries of what DeStefano thought to be her daughter were then interrupted by the voice of a man.
“Listen here, I have your daughter,” it said. “You call the police, you call anybody, I’m gonna pop her something so full of drugs. I’m gonna have my way with her then drop her off in Mexico, and you’re never going to see her again.”
The man demanded $1 million from DeStefano in exchange for the release of Brie. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before the entire incident proved to be a scam, as Jennifer quickly called Brie, who was confused by her mother’s hysteria.
Fake or not, however, DeStefano will forever be traumatized by those four minutes she spent believing her daughter had been kidnapped.
A Classic Scam Becoming More Sophisticated
"Here’s a cautionary tale": Joy Reid on her image and voice being used in deep fake scam.— The ReidOut (@thereidout) July 25, 2023
Watch now: https://t.co/YWDetMFbB0
Imposter scams have been widespread for decades. An older version of the scam, for example, involved the scammer calling someone’s grandparent and telling them that their grandchild has been hurt and needs money.
With AI-generated voices, the scam not only becomes easier, it becomes more convincing. With under a minute’s worth of audio of someone’s voice, scammers are able to use cheap AI tools to create a clone.
Where do the scammers get the audio clips of their victims’ voices? Well, usually they are sourced from social media.
“A scammer could use AI to clone the voice of your loved one,” the Federal Trade Commission said in a statement. “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… [the voice will] sound just like your loved one.”
Can You Protect Yourself From AI Voice Scams?
There is no surefire way of protecting yourself from these scams, but if you find yourself in a situation like DeStefano’s, common sense will be your best friend.
If the voice on the other end is demanding exorbitant amounts of money or the purchasing of gift cards, you are likely being scammed. Like DeStefano, you should immediately call the person whose voice is being used and verify that the information you’ve been receiving is in fact real. If all else fails, contact law enforcement.