A couple in Canada reportedly lost $21,000 from a scammer claiming to be a lawyer and their son.
Benjamin Perkin told The Washington Post his parents thought the AI-generated voice was him.
The rise of AI is making it easier for scammers to make people think they're talking to loved ones.
A couple in Canada were reportedly scammed out of $21,000 after they received a call from someone claiming to be a lawyer who said their son was in jail for killing a diplomat in a car accident.
Benjamin Perkin told The Washington Post the caller put an AI-generated voice that sounded like him on the phone with his parents to ask for money. The alleged lawyer called his parents again after the initial call, and told them Perkin needed $21,000 for legal fees before going to court.
Perkin told the Post the voice was "close enough for my parents to truly believe they did speak with me."
His parents collected the cash and sent the scammer money through Bitcoin, Perkin said, but they later admitted they thought the phone call sounded strange. They realized they had been scammed after Perkin called to check in later that evening.
Perkin did not immediately respond to a reachout from Insider to discuss what happened.
He told the Post his family filed a police report with Canadian authorities, but that, "The money's gone. There's no insurance. There's no getting it back."
The Post reported that while Perkin doesn't know how the scammers found his voice, he has posted videos about snowmobiling on YouTube.
The rise of more powerful AI tools is coinciding with a rise in scams involving people impersonating other people. The most commonly reported scam last year was imposter scams, the Federal Trade Commission found. The FTC saw fraud reports from 2.4 million people in 2022, which was lower than in 2021. However, the amount of money lost was higher, with $8.8 billion reported lost.
Scams involving AI technology predate the emergence of ChatGPT and other AI bots going viral right now. In 2019, the managing director at a British energy company reportedly wired over $240,000 to an account in Hungary after he thought his boss asked him to do so in a phone call.
In January, ElevenLabs, a research lab exploring voice cloning and tools for synthetic speech, shared a Twitter thread addressing people who "use our tech for malicious purposes."
The startup tweeted that it was releasing a tool to let people verify if an audio sample was made using the company's technology, and that its VoiceLab would only be accessible with payment.
A day before writing the thread, ElevenLabs tweeted that it was aware of "an increasing number of voice cloning misuse cases," after releasing its Beta platform.
Motherboard found that members on the anonymous site, 4chan, were using ElevenLabs' technology to generate voices that sound like celebrities to say racist and inappropriate things.
The FTC has created a new Office of Technology to investigate the potential uses of AI that companies are promising, and to see if companies are mitigating the risks their products can cause.
"We're also concerned with the risk that deepfakes and other AI-based synthetic media, which are becoming easier to create and disseminate, will be used for fraud," FTC spokesperson Juliana Gruenwald previously told Insider.
Gruenwald also told Insider that the FTC "has already seen a staggering rise in fraud on social media."
"AI tools that generate authentic-seeming videos, photos, audio, and text could supercharge this trend, allowing fraudsters greater reach and speed," she said.
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