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Generative AI programs being used to create more convincing scams


The Better Business Business Bureau is warning people to be on the lookout for more convincing phishing scams generated by artificial intelligence. 

Generative AI programs have been used to create pictures, writing samples, music, codes and anything that can be built with computer-controlled systems, such as 3-D printers. They have been commonly used for business and entertainment. However, as generative AI continues to grow, so has the number of people looking to exploit it for personal gain. 

One such example is ChatGPT which has been used by students to cheat on homework and essays across the country. A study from Forbes found 43% of college students have used AI tools like ChatGPT. 

Scammers have also been taking advantage of generative AI. Fraudsters can use such programs to create natural-sounding phishing messages with greater efficiency, making it harder for consumers to spot a scam, according to the BBB. 

“It's really just refined the process that’s already in place. Scammers play a numbers game so they send them out, you know the same text or phone call or email to a half million people,” Nick Knoth, the Regional Director of Columbia’s Better Business Bureau, said. “All it does for them is make their message better.” 

Scammers have used tools such as making a phone call using a convincing AI voice cloning tool of someone the victim knows and asking them for money. 

The Federal Trade Commision says consumers are bombarded by millions of these calls each month, and data show that a significant proportion of illegal robocalls originate from overseas. 

People 60 years old and older are targeted with these scams 

A representative from AARP told ABC 17 News that scammers will instruct potential victims to send them money in the form of a gift card. Victims are also told to be as vague as possible if they are asked about why they are buying them. 

Because of that, many stores that sell gift cards have been contacted to be on the lookout for scams. In an effort to prevent them, employees are trained to ask questions if someone is trying to put a significant amount of money on the card. 

AARP also said it can be common to hear multiple people on the phone call claiming to be lawyers or doctors. If the potential victim asks why their family members' voices sound off on the phone they will use these fake professionals to try and convince them that  their loved one is indeed needing money. 

Other types of scams include phony texts or emails. In the past, these types of scams were easy to spot because they would be littered with typos. AI-generated technology has made these messages more convincing. 

 “A lot of folks like to think that email scams are a thing of the past or not as relevant as they used to be,” Knoth said. “But they are still relevant and frankly more so with the advent of AI.”

The BBB offers tips to avoid these types of scams which include:

  • Don’t believe everything you see online.
  • Scrutinize wording.
  • Don’t click links or attachments. 
  • Check and double-check.
  • Know common phishing tactics.
  • When in doubt, get a second opinion.

If you fall victim to one of these scams the FBI advises people to go to 

“File a complaint because then we can basically use almost like a clearing house for that information. ‘So we're seeing these scams going on in Missouri, oh my goodness we are now at a threshold of x amount of dollars lost’ and we can bring the full weight of the federal government behind that investigation,” Bridget Patton, a spokesperson with the FBI, said.  

Article Topic Follows: Crime

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Mitchell Kaminski

Mitchell Kaminski is from Wheaton, Illinois. He earned a degree in sports communication and journalism from Bradley University. He has done radio play-by-play and co-hosts a Chicago White Sox podcast.


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