Thankfully, DeStefano was at another daughter’s dance class and surrounded by other parents who sprung into action. One called 911, while another called DeStefano’s husband. He called their daughter, and within four minutes was able to confirm that she was completely and totally safe.
AI Scams on the Rise
Subbarao Kambhampati, a computer science professor specializing in AI, told 3TV that AI voice cloning technology is quickly evolving with little regulation or oversight. “You can no longer trust your ears,” he said.
“In the beginning, it would require a larger amount of samples. Now there are ways in which you can do this with just three seconds of your voice. Three seconds. And with the three seconds, it can come close to how exactly you sound,” he continued.
With this kind of technology running wild, what can parents do when they receive a very real-sounding call? For starters, says Dan Mayo, the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Phoenix office, keep kids’ or other loved ones’ voice clips locked down. Public profiles on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, or any other app are fair game for scammers. Accounts should be locked down on private to prevent a person’s voice from being stolen and cloned.
Red Flags of an AI Scam
Additionally, he says, be aware of red flags. One is that scammers will often demand that ransom be paid in cryptocurrency or gift cards. Additionally, the calls always come from a number you’re unfamiliar with. “If the phone number is coming from an area code that you’re not familiar with, that should be one red flag,” Mayo adds. “Second red flag; international numbers. Sometimes they will call from those as well. The third red flag; they will not allow you to get off the phone and talk to your significant other. That’s a problem.”
Bottom line: be safe, and be aware. If you get one of these calls, keep the person talking until someone else near you can call police and/or confirm that your loved one is safe. And though it may seem so scary and real, try to take breaths and keep calm.
DeStefano says that after her daughter was confirmed safe, she completely broke down as relief washed over her. The fears and the “what ifs” were real to her, even though they were just a cruel scam designed to play on every parent’s worst nightmare.
Be informed and keep your accounts locked down, friends! Knowledge is the best weapon we have to defeat AI scams.