Houston-area man’s artificial intelligence scam costs $17,000

The US Marshals Service is warning the public about an ongoing phone scam where callers threaten arrest and demand payment.

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An 82-year-old man was swindled out of thousands of dollars after scammers used artificial intelligence technology to impersonate a Texas police officer over the phone, ABC 13’s Erica Simon reports.

Jerry, identified only by his first name, told ABC 13 that on Oct. 21 he got a call from a stranger who identified himself as a soldier. Matthew with the San Antonio Police Department. The caller told Jerry that Jerry’s son-in-law, Michael Trueblood, was in jail for a serious accident he caused. Another voice, which Jerry thought belonged to his son-in-law, came on the line and asked Jerry to help free him.

The scammers convinced Jerry to withdraw a total of $17,000 and hire a courier to deliver the cash from the assisted living facility where Jerry lived with his wife. Although Jerry wrote down the license plate numbers of the cars that drove off with his money, officers with the Sugarland Police Department said the leads were short on any related courier services.

“We were really dependent on that money. I’m going to have to get a job somewhere. HEB or something, to try to get some of this money back,” Jerry said.


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Artificial intelligence experts say similar schemes that rely on voice-simulating devices have proliferated in the past year. According to aFOX Business article by Eric Rolle, advances in technology have allowed criminals to better impersonate their target’s friends and family.

With audio samples lasting between three and 10 seconds, scammers can realistically replicate a person’s voice. These short clips can be taken from phone calls, social media or other corners of the Internet, Mike Scheumack, senior director of marketing and innovation at identity protection company IDIQ, told Fox. “The scammer’s goal is to get you to fight or flee [mode] And to create an urgency in your mind that your loved one is in some kind of trouble.” “So the best way to deal with these situations is to hang up and call him immediately to check if this is the problem,” he said. “

These also typically require multiple people to perform, Schumack added. “You have people researching social media and gathering information about people. Those are not the same people who are going to plug your voice. You have someone else simulating the voice. You’re someone else. “You’ve got someone actually doing it. Make a call and if the scam works, you’ve got somebody coming to the victim’s house and taking money.”

As the operation expands, President Joe Biden recently signed an executive order calling for stricter standards to manage AI safety and security. In addition to directing software developers to release safety test results and other critical information, he urged government agencies to set guidelines to improve cybersecurity and privacy, protect US citizens and authenticate digital content.


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According to the Associated Press report, Biden said: Artificial intelligence is all around us. “To fulfill the promise of artificial intelligence and avoid risk, we must govern this technology.”

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