Artificial Intelligence Scams Hitting Scottsdale: Do You Need to Worry?

Photo Credit: Investopedia

The further development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been one of the biggest tech stories, perhaps even one of the biggest societal developments, of the last 12 months. The development and usage of ChatGPT, the software that threatens to leave Google search in the dust with its nuanced and detailed ability to answer queries, has proven to be potentially disruptive to a myriad of different industries and tasks.

However one topic that you likely haven’t heard associated with AI is the black market of scamming. And a new (and frankly, frightening) article demonstrates the dark capacity for this technology.

A Scottsdale mother recently got a call from someone who had supposedly kidnapped her daughter and was asking for a ransom, with the supposed daughter’s voice filled with terror in the background. But the daughter’s voice on the call was generated by AI, using only a few seconds of the daughter’s actual voice to generate an artificial version.

Suffice it to say, the days of the emails from supposed Nigerian princes are a distant and obsolete dream. We have entered a new age of scams, one that is not likely to be fixed any time soon. It took years for legislation to catch up with the constant stream to spam phone calls and to put a dent in them (and that’s not even a gigantic dent), so we are likely on the front end of this mess.

Is this a concern for you? Yes and no.

First, let’s address the No. The big cell phone carriers will often detect a lot of spam calls and alert you to them before you answer. It is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it helps. Scammers desire a degree of anonymity, anonymity which is easily detectable. It stands to reason that that same technology will be used to filter out those who perpetuate such schemes, so it would be wise to ensure that your carrier utilizes these filters.

Now for the Yes: as stated above, such tech isn’t perfect. These calls will make their way through on occasion, and will likely get more sophisticated. It will be wise to have a plan to counter them. I recommend a few common sense ideas to confirm that these calls are false alarms:

1) make sure that you have a quick, responsive and open line of communication with your loved ones in case you get any calls like this to confirm that they’re bogus.
2) Consider having a few “security questions” that you can ask your “loved ones” (or rather, the AI version of your loved ones on the other end) that wouldn’t be found on their social media feeds or the internet. An AI bot might know your son’s favorite sports team but probably wouldn’t know the nickname you had for him as a child.
3) Communicate this with your loved ones so you’re all on the same page. That if they receive a panicked flurry of texts and calls to please respond quickly.

Now we know what the new frontier of scams will look like, but there are ways to counter this. The machines haven’t yet replaced actual relationships, so with some reasonable preparation and a good head on your shoulders you can effectively protect yourself and others.