How scammers are using AI voice cloning to trick victims into sending money

Originally published at: How scammers are using AI voice cloning to trick victims into sending money | Boing Boing


Oh for goodness sake, the minute they start saying “bitcoin” you KNOW it’s a goddamned scam. The major media is failing our citizenry by not getting the word out on shit like this. No one legit is going to be begging you to send them money through crypto currency exchanges.


“bitcoin ATM”? Seriously people just stop and think.


I wonder how much the AI can copy the emotion and person’s style of communication. But also if someone isn’t aware that this is even possible i doubt they’d catch on that something is amiss. This is likely to work on older folks :thinking:


Considering this scam can work perfectly well with a bit of social engineering / cold reading skill on someone that’s old (see the infamous “It’s me, it’s me!” scam in Japan), this seems like it’s possibly more trouble than it’s worth. Just like spam purposely has spelling and grammatical errors so that only the stupid will fall for it, keeping it simple helps ensure that if someone doesn’t hang up on you in the first minute, you’re much more likely to be able to complete the entire scam.


If you think about the most common online scams, they convince people that they need to pay, say, the IRS with iTunes gift cards. Scammers have optimized their approach to take advantage of the natural human tendency to discount incongruous elements, especially when focused on something alarming. When you get the point where the scam is sophisticated enough to duplicate a voice (and presumably know other personal details about the impersonated), they’re also going to be really good at stoking enough fear that people’s rational brains just turn off in panic.


But I’ve been assured by very trustworthy Youtubers that AI doesn’t replace skilled workers, it “democratizes” the arts. So really this is a good thing. Now poor scammers aren’t beholden to voice actors unfair wage demands…



There’s a reason these asshole scammers usually target the elderly. A person who grew up in an era before ATMs and has lived through countless crazy new technologies and cultural shifts might not have the background understanding of bitcoin or AI to spot the telltale warning signs of the scam even if they aren’t yet experiencing cognitive decline.


My mother is an ideal mark for this scam. I’m going to give her a code phrase to indicate it’s really me and it’s really an emergency.


I want to know the odds of an elderly person knowing what a bitcoin ATM is, where to find one and how to use it. I think the victim pool is small for this particular scam.


The scammers usually talk them through those steps.


I’ve had this call several times. A couple of months ago I got a call from my “grandson” saying he was being held at the jail and needed $9300 bail blah blah blah. His “court appointed lawyer” got on the line and we were away to the races. I gave them each a fake grandson name and strung the “lawyer” along for a good 7 or 8 minutes. It was fun and I got to tell him exactly what I thought of him without telling him anything that would make him think I’d given him a fake name.
It helps that I know exactly how the Canadian legal system works and where the courthouses and jail facilities are located. Next time I hope to get the police involved if I can get them responding quickly enough. They’ve been busting a few of these fraud teams across the country this winter.


The Grandma Strikes Back


Oh that’s a smart idea.


The solution here is easy. Families need to set up a code word or phrase that only they know. If an alleged family member calls with an emergency, ask them to tell you the code word/phrase. If they can’t, it’s a scam. Hang up.




This isnt a bad idea and worth instilling in chdren too.


Scammer: Hi, it’s me, it’s an emergency. I got arrested for something I didn’t do, and I need you to send money to my lawyer to cover my bail.

Your mom: Oh honey, this sounds serious. What happened?

Scammer: I don’t have time to explain, but I need you to listen close and send the money right away.

Your mom: Didn’t you tell me some kind of code word or something, that you’d use if you ever called in a sticky situation? I can’t think what it was, now…

Scammer: I don’t have it with me now, but this is an emergency and that’s not important right now.

Your mom: Are you sure? Well, okay, honey, if you say so. Tell me what you need me to do.

[Hopefully not your mom, but surely someone’s mom… Is there any foolproof way around that, that we could build into it, I wonder?]


There’s only so much you can do. It’s about reducing the probability she falls for a scam, not eliminating the possibility completely.

The fact is, most scammers are lazy wastes of oxygen. They’re just as likely to give up immediately and try a new sucker.


Good points. They probably have a whole list of numbers to try.

I was thinking maybe role play some different ways that a scammer might try to get around the code phrase, so the hopefully-not-a-victim would have some knowledge of how to respond to various kinds of pressure. My other thought was to write down the phrase and keep it near the phone, but with land lines disappearing, what would “keep it near the phone” even mean now?