A sophisticated and twisted new phone scam is targeting parents in New York City, with fraudsters utilizing advanced AI to mimic the distressed voices of their target’s children. One woman who was scammed by a call seeming to come from her 14-year-old daughter crying and claiming to have been arrested explains, “I’m aware it was really stupid – and I’m not a stupid person – but when you hear your child’s voice, screaming, crying, it just puts you on a different level.”
The New York Post reports that residents of the Upper West Side of New York City have been left in a state of shock and fear as scammers deploy AI to simulate the voices of their children, creating realistic and distressing scenarios. One mother recounted her harrowing experience, where she received a call from what she believed was her 14-year-old daughter, crying and apologizing, claiming she had been arrested. The voice was so convincing that the mother was prepared to hand-deliver $15,500 in cash for bail, believing her daughter had rear-ended a pregnant woman’s car while driving underage.
Applying a latex mask to a robot (Fred Dufour)
The scam was revealed when her actual daughter, who was in school taking a chemistry exam, contacted her to let her know she was safe. Reflecting on the incident, the mother stated, “I’m aware it was really stupid – and I’m not a stupid person – but when you hear your child’s voice, screaming, crying, it just puts you on a different level.”
The FTC has been alerting the public about such AI-enhanced phone scams since March, noting a nationwide prevalence. These scams are a part of a broader category of imposter scams, which were the most reported form of fraud last year. The FTC disclosed that consumers were swindled out of nearly $8.8 billion through various fraud schemes in the previous year, marking a 30 percent increase from the year before. The average loss over the phone was reported to be $1,400, with younger adults falling victim more frequently, but older adults losing more money when they do fall prey.
The scammers are leveraging voice-cloning programs, feeding them with clips of a person’s voice obtained when they answer spam phone calls or from content posted on social media. This technology enables the creation of highly convincing and manipulative scenarios, causing significant distress and financial loss among the victims.
In response to these alarming incidents, some residents have ceased posting on social media and implemented code words among family members to prevent falling victim to such scams. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, while not having encountered AI being used in this manner before, has been proactive in prosecuting other bail-related phone scams and urges New Yorkers to report any scams to their Financial Frauds Bureau.
Read more at the New York Post here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship.