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New technology creates fake calls and voicemails: BBB

Resist the urge to act immediately is the top tip listed by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to avoid AI voice cloning scams.
Is the voice on the other line of an urgent phone call from a family member a real person?

Everyone knows to look for phony emails — they can appear in your email inbox or even at work.

Scammers can easily make messages that appear to come from anywhere, like your boss’s email account or a close family member. But what about phone calls and voicemail?

Scammers can use new AI technology to mimic the voice of someone you know and create a phone call or voicemail recording.

This “voice cloning” technology has recently advanced, and anyone with the right software can clone a voice from a very small audio sample.

How the scam works

At work, you get a voicemail from your boss.

They instruct you to wire thousands of dollars to a vendor for a rush project. The request is out of the blue. But it’s the boss’s orders, so you make the transfer. A few hours later, you see your boss and confirm that you sent the payment.

But there’s one big problem; your manager has no idea what you are talking about! It turns out that the message was fake.

At home, you may receive a phone call or voicemail from a family member in an urgent situation like an accident or a medical emergency.

They provide convincing details and ask for money immediately via a digital wallet payment app like Venmo or PayPal.

You find out later that the story wasn’t true, and your money is gone.

A consumer recently shared on Scam Tracker, “Received call on 1-26-24 I thought it was my daughter-in-law she said Hi mom calling to say she was pulled over driving and has a broken nose and is now being. She was frantic to have me call the lawyer right away. She asked me three times if I wrote the name and number down. I said yes. She said she had to go right now as they are taking her. Her voice sounded just like my daughter-in-law.”

Tip to avoid AI voice cloning scams

Resist the urge to act immediately

  • No matter how convincing a phone call or voicemail may sound, hang up or close the message if something doesn’t feel right. Call the person who claimed to have called you directly with the phone number you have saved for them. Don’t call back the number provided by the caller or caller ID. Ask questions that would be hard for an imposter to answer correctly.

Don’t send money if you’re in doubt

  • If the caller urgently asks you to send money via a digital wallet payment app or a gift card, that may be a red flag for a scam. If you wire money to someone and later realize it’s a fraud, the police must be alerted.

Secure your accounts

  • Whether at work or home, set up multifactor authentication for email logins and other changes in email settings. At work, verify changes in information about customers, employees, or vendors.

At work, train your staff

  • Create a secure culture at your office by training employees in internet security. Make it a policy to confirm all change and payment requests before transferring. Don’t rely on email or voicemail.