AI Voice Generators: A New Wave of Imposter Scams

In 2022, imposter scams were one of the top reported scams of 2022, accounting for $2.6 billion in losses.

A new wave of this scam has been spreading across the country, as fraudsters are using AI voice cloning to manipulate people into giving away their money and personal information. Here are all the details so you can be on the lookout.

How Do Imposter Scams Work?

It often begins with unexpected contact. This could be a phone call, text message, social media message, or email from a fraudster who is impersonating a family, friend, or someone from an organization. Scammers most commonly pose as a government agency, such as the IRS, Sheriff’s Department, or Social Security.

Whatever the ruse is, the message will most likely be urgent. The fraudster will try to convince you that a bill is overdue, a warrant is out for your arrest, or an account has been compromised, and it needs immediate attention. However, the only way to solve this problem is through payment, typically a wire transfer or gift cards. 

Once payment has been received, the person on the other end quickly vanishes. This leaves many victims confused and wondering if the problem has been resolved.

Fraudsters are Now Using AI-Generation 

Fraudsters are now using Artificial Intelligence to clone voices of real-life people to further this gimmick. Using videos found on social media platforms, scammers can pull snippets of someone's voice and run it through an AI voice generator to clone it.

Scammers will then target family and friends of the person whose voice is being cloned. They will use the duplicated voice to call people, pretending to be the real-life version, and demand funds. 

As with most imposter scams, the fraudster will use an emergency situation to convince the victims that they need cash immediately. An Arizona mom experienced this first-hand, as she received a disturbing phone call from someone pretending to be her daughter. The daughter claimed to be kidnapped, and her captors were demanding a ransom.

Reports of this nature are on the rise, and the Federal Trade Commission issued an alert in March of 2023 asking the public to be on the lookout for this scam.

How to Avoid Falling for an Imposter Scam

While we like to think that something like this will never happen to us or someone we know, the truth is it can happen to anyone. Here are some practical steps you can take to protect your hard-earned money and peace of mind.

  1. Don’t answer phone calls from unknown numbers
  • If you do not recognize the number calling you, it is better to not pick up. If it is important, the caller can leave you a message and then you can call them back directly.
  1. Don’t rely on caller ID
  • Just because the caller ID looks legitimate does not mean that it is. Scammers can use tools to spoof the caller ID of a loved one, making it seem like it is coming from a familiar person or organization. So, just because your phone says a call is coming from a family member doesn’t necessarily mean it is.
  1. Hang up and call back
  • If you receive an urgent call from a friend, family member, or organization demanding money, hang up and call them back on a number you know is their direct line. This way you will be able to determine if the call is legitimate or not.
  1. Remain calm
  • Fraudsters are trying to get an emotional reaction out of their victims so that they feel pressured to hand over funds. But don’t fall for it! By staying calm, you will be able to properly assess the situation and determine if the call is authentic or not.
  1. Talk to your family and friends
  • Tell your friends, family, co-workers about this trend! The more people who know about the scam, the less likely they will fall for it. It may also be a good idea to set up a code word with your family and friends. So that if this does happen to you or a loved one, you can ask for the code word to verify.

Steps to Take If You Fall Victim to an Imposter Scam

If you or someone you know becomes a victim of an imposter scam, taking steps to remediate the situation is crucial. First things first: file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). From here, FTC provides step by step directions on how to report the fraud, and what your next steps should be. For instance, if you gave the scammer credit card info or personal information, there are additional action items to initiate.

Educating Yourself Is the First Step to Stopping a Scam

Keeping your money and personal information safe can feel like a never-ending task, and the need to be on the lookout for suspicious phone calls, texts, and emails is more important than ever.

Education on current scams is the first step to safeguarding yourself and stopping a scam from taking place, and Blackhawk Bank is here to help you stay vigilant. Our bankers know what to look out for and will help you find tailored solutions to keep your funds secure. Ready to learn more about what Blackhawk Bank has to offer? Click here to set up an appointment with a banker today.