Scam Warning: AI Robocalls, Your Loved Ones are NOT Asking for Money

Spam calls have plagued modern society for years now and are only getting worse. With the availability of generative AI technology to anyone, bad actors have started using it for evil.

If you haven’t seen Obama playing Minecraft or Plankton from Spongebob singing Rolling in the Deep, you may be unfamiliar with artificial intelligence voice synthesis. Artificial intelligence voice synthesis is a voice changer or text to speech program that uses AI learning models to mimic someone’s voice. Think of it like when you speak through a fan and your voice sounds like Darth Vader, but instead of a fan you use a computer and now it sounds like Taylor Swift. Apple introduced an accessibility feature that uses the same tech in iOS 17 that allows for mimicry of one’s voice with less than a minute of recording. In this case, it can be used for good. For example, someone with a speech impairment can use it to talk to someone by only typing into their phone.

With all that said, this tech can also be used for some very nefarious purposes. A new trend among spam callers is using the voice of a loved one, or someone you know to trick you into giving away personal information and sending money to the scammer. This is done by taking a model of someone’s voice who is known to be connected to you and calling you with their voice. It is important to be suspicious of any call that you get from an unknown number and with this new technology, one needs to be extra careful. If you still need to answer unknown callers for work or otherwise, a common work around is to set up a code word or phrase with your loved ones and friends. For example, if I were to get a call from an unknown number with the person claiming to be my mother and sounding like my mother too, I would ask them, “Do you remember our code?” and if she responded with the code we agreed upon, I would know it is legitimate.

Overall, it is wise to be wary of any unknown phone numbers. Using common sense when receiving asks for money or other critical personal information goes a long way in stopping you from becoming the next victim in a scam.