Cyberhood Watch >

For several years now, AI has been employed to maliciously copy and replicate real people's voices in order to scam and trick loved ones and friends.

In this article

Scams aren’t going anywhere. The trouble is, they’ve morphed from the Nigerian Prince’s gold bouillon into a mysterious phone call from what sounds like your terrified daughter in the clutches of some vile kidnappers.

Voice cloning scams have already caused countless damage in financial losses, as well as other damaging experiences such as sextortion and blackmail. It’s sobering to think of how much more these will grow given a few years.

The unfortunate part is how easily these scammers can steal small clips of your voice and use AI software to extrapolate that into even full-blown conversations! With all the advancements in AI, gone are the days of simply recording you saying “Yes” and playing that behind a clip of someone asking for your permission to do something nefarious.

The good news is there are several things you can do to help prevent this from happening to you, as well as what things to be vigilant for if you encounter one of these scams in the wild.

How to Spot the Scam

By far the most common use of this scam is to solicit money from friends and family members. Because so much of our lives are accessible via a quick online search and on social media, it’s not difficult for a scammer to assemble a basic digital profile of a potential victim.

Because of this, you’ll want to be especially wary of any phone calls you receive that sound like someone you know asking you for unusual amounts of money.

Examine the phone number

This is one of the first things you should do when you get one of these calls, but take a look at the phone number. Chances are, you won’t have it saved in your phone, and it may even have the wrong area code. When in doubt hang up.

Verify with the real person

When this does happen, the best thing you can do is to immediately hang up and call that person directly yourself. Of course, if circumstances allow you could also pay them a quick visit in person. Simply ask them to confirm whether or not it was them that called you.

If they have no idea what you’re talking about, immediately block and report the number from which you received the phony call.

Pay attention to tells

If you are otherwise unable to contact your acquaintance and verify anything, pay attention to anything in their voice or speech patterns that sounds unusual. Sometimes, an AI clone will subtly give itself away.

How to Stop the Scam

The following are things you can do to safely limit your exposure to these scams. Remember that just because a scammer can copy someone’s voice doesn’t automatically earn them any money; someone has to fall for it first.

Don’t answer unknown calls

This one may be hard for some of us who grew up before smart phones and caller ID were widespread conveniences. Nowadays, sadly, it’s all too common for unknown numbers to be spam, robo, or scam calls.

The simplest way you can avoid most phone scams is to simply not answer calls from unknown numbers.

Get into the habit of following up with those you call

Put yourself on the other end of these calls for a minute. Let’s say you are dialing a new friend or acquaintance and they haven’t yet saved your number. If they, too, are following best practices, they should ignore your call and let it go to voice mail.

When this happens, you should leave them a quick message, but another thing you can do that’s often even faster is to send them a simple text message. Just let them know it was you who called and you’d like to speak with them when they’re available.

We know this step may seem innocuous or mundane, but it’s actually a great habit to get into since the vast majority of people will check a text message much sooner and faster than a voice mail.

Verify with the real person

Yes, this is the same suggestion as before, but it holds just as much weight being listed here as well. It’s always good to verify with the real person before sending them money.

Save numbers in your phone

For anyone you know and trust, save their number in your phone. This will spare you the trouble of having to play “phone tag” and will give you more peace of mind knowing that you are talking to the real person.

Be extra cautious

Even if you’ve saved someone’s number, always remember to be cautious and verify with them before sending money. Scammers steal billions of dollars every year, and this number will only increase as technology gets better, so please be cautious and safeguard your money.