AI Increasingly Employed by Conmen – Over $1 Billion Lost In 2022

Conmen and scammers are turning more to AI to help cheat the public out of their money, with a new report showing that over $1.6 billion was lost by Americans in 2022.

These latest figures come from the Federal Trade Commission, which notes that conmen are using more sophisticated AI tools to trick people.

The FTC also said that the $1.6 billion total was almost certainly an understatement due to the expected high volumes of people who don’t report scams out of shame.

Of the scams that were reported, the top 10 categories included:

  • Financial impersonation and fraud
  • Robocalls
  • Computer scams
  • Catfishing through dating apps/websites
  • Identity theft

And more.

Most concerning is how AI technology has allowed conmen to use more sophisticated methods, including the use of voice mimicking. This is where they are able to use tech to mimic a person’s voice and then call a family member or friend, pretending to be in trouble and asking for money.

Several testimonies from people who had fallen victim to these scams said that the calls sounded exactly like the person they claimed to be and that they genuinely sounded in need of urgent help.

In a hearing, a senior couple, who were showcased in a video testimony, recounted a distressing call they received from someone they believed to be their daughter. The daughter, sounding anguished, sought their assistance.

“My daughter was, she was crying on the phone, profusely crying and saying, ‘mom, mom, mom,’ and of course, my wife was saying, ‘LeAnn, LeAnn, what is the matter?’, and she repeated it again, ‘mom, mom, mom’ and it sounded exactly like her,” Terry Holtzapple, one of the victims, shared.

Gary Schildhorn, an attorney based in Philadelphia and another individual targeted by an AI voice clone scam, also gave testimony. He came close to sending $9,000 to the scammer but verified with his daughter-in-law that it was an extortion attempt.

The scammer, posing as an attorney, contacted Schildhorn, requesting funds to bail his son out of jail for causing a car accident and failing a breathalyzer test.

“There was no doubt in my mind that it was his voice on the phone — it was the exact cadence with which he speaks,” he said. “I sat motionless in my car just trying to process these events. How did they get my son’s voice? The only conclusion I can come up with is that they used artificial intelligence, or AI, to clone his voice… it is manifestly apparent that this technology… provide[s] a riskless avenue for fraudsters to prey on us.”

However, since no money was sent, law enforcement informed Schildhorn that no crime had been committed, and no further action was taken.

“With crypto and AI, law enforcement does not have a remedy,” Schildhorn stated during the hearing. “There needs to be some legislation to allow these people to be identified… so that there’s a remedy for the harm that’s being caused. Currently, there’s no remedy,” he emphasized.