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The rise of AI phone scams

Jun 28, 2023 Business Insider

If someone you know calls you from an unknown number asking for money, watch out, it could be an AI-generated voice imitating them.

Eddie Cumberbatch was sitting in his Chicago apartment in April when he received a frantic call from his father. As soon as he heard his dad’s voice, Eddie, a 19-year-old TikToker, knew something was up. His dad asked whether Eddie was at home and if everything was all right. “That was a really weird way for him to start off the call,” Eddie told me.

After Eddie said he was safe at home, his father asked whether he had been in a car accident. Eddie was baffled — not only had he not been in a wreck, but he hadn’t driven in six months. His father was relieved, but Eddie was confused: Why did he think he had been in a car accident?

His dad explained that someone had called his house phone from a foreign number. When Eddie’s grandfather picked up, it sounded like Eddie on the phone. This “Eddie” said he had been in a car accident and needed money immediately. Fortunately for Eddie’s family, his father was immediately suspicious of the call. When his father found Eddie’s grandfather on the phone and heard about the incident, he called Eddie to verify the story. He knew it was out of character for Eddie to ask for money — plus, Eddie didn’t even have a car in Chicago. His dad’s call to Eddie confirmed that it hadn’t been Eddie on the phone. In truth, his family had been the target of a terrifying new scam: The fraudsters used an artificial rendering of Eddie’s voice to try and bilk his loved ones out of cash…