Enterprise-Record (Chico)

Voice cloning likely to make scams harder to detect

- By Jake Hutchison jhutchison@chicoer.com

If you've been following my column over the past year, you've likely read about numerous phone calls and email scams in which someone pretends to be a family member of the target in order to get money.

One particular­ly heinous method is when the scammer, whether using their own voice or a bot, makes calls to the elderly pretending to be their grandchild, claiming that they have been kidnapped and need ransom money or are in jail and need bail money.

As it turns out, this scheme could have some help through the use of voice cloning.

This has apparently become a large enough concern over the years that the Federal Trade Commission has put together workshops on how to identify scams using voice cloning.

The method itself is exactly what it sounds like. The scammer utilizes technology to mimic people's voices over the phone in order to sound like your loved ones.

If you follow technology, especially in relation to audio and visual fields, this probably isn't much of a surprise. Deepfake videos have become more and more popular online as a tool to show how easy it can be to pretend to be someone else or put someone in another's place.

It was only a matter of time before scammers caught on.

If you receive calls like this and they sound real or at least close to real, it is important to try and reach out to the person they are potentiall­y pretending to be so you can confirm their whereabout­s. I know it's hard, but try not to panic. The scammer wants an emotional reaction in order to get money as fast and convenient­ly as possible. Ask questions as needed.

One positive is that the average scammer likely doesn't have immediate access to technology like this and trying to get it could be just out of reach enough that it's not worth it to them. Regardless, stay safe out there.

Scam of the Week generally runs every Tuesday. Readers are welcome to contact reporter Jake Hutchison to report scams and potential scams they have come in contact with by calling 8281329 or via email at jhutchison@chicoer.com.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States