Financial fraudsters are targeting victims with AI scams

Financial fraudsters are targeting victims with AI scams image

The methods used by financial scammers change constantly, as they use ever-more sophisticated technology and tactics to defraud innocent people.

 It’s perhaps no surprise, therefore, that they have turned to artificial intelligence to create scams that are frighteningly hard to detect. 

How are fraudsters using AI? 

Fake phone calls 

Fraudsters need only a short clip of a person’s voice, which they can obtain by recording a phone call or taking clips of them speaking off social media, to clone it using AI. Using the cloned voice, they can then phone up one of that person’s friends or relatives, claim they’re in distress and trick the unsuspecting victim into sending them money. In many cases, it’s so convincing that recipients of these phone calls have no reason to suspect foul play and can end up being defrauded out of thousands of pounds. 

Using ChatGPT to write sophisticated emails 

Criminals are increasingly using free-to-access AI language models such as ChatGPT to create highly polished, persuasive letters asking people to send money or share sensitive personal information. Since these tools can be trained to emulate a particular style of writing or tone of voice, it can often be very hard to tell that they’re not genuine. 

How can you protect yourself against AI scams? 

Create a family password 

You could add an extra layer of security to your communications by coming up with a safe word or phrase, something that only you and your family would know and that fraudsters would have no way of finding out. 

Look out for messages that heighten your emotions 

Fraudsters will often try to get their targets to act emotionally rather than rationally, so will send messages designed to heighten a person’s feelings. For example, they could get in touch saying you’ve won a huge sum of money and ask for your account details, claim there is an emergency or lure you in romantically so you’re tempted to send them money. Ultimately, scammers exploit heightened emotional states to cloud logical thinking, so it’s important to treat a strong reaction to a call or email as a potential red flag. 

Verify calls from unknown numbers 

If you answer a call from an unknown number claiming to be a loved one, end the call and ring back using the number you’ve already got saved on your phone for that person. Similarly, if a scammer contacts you purporting to be a bank or other organisation, end the call and ring them on the number listed on their website. You’ll then find out if the call you received was legitimate, and if it was, you can simply carry on with your phone call. 

Question unsolicited requests for information or money 

Legitimate organisations don’t and won’t ask you to share sensitive information over text or phone. So if you receive unsolicited calls asking for particular details, verify their identity first. You can either contact the organisation directly through the number on their website, as we described earlier, or search the number of who called you online. If it’s a scam call, there’s a good chance the number will be listed on websites warning of fraudster activity and be displayed at the top of the search engine results page. 

Stay informed and vigilant 

Financial fraud is an ever-present threat and one that will only evolve further over time. But awareness can help you stay safe and secure in the face of sophisticated criminal activity. So stay informed and up-to-date about the latest tactics and methods being used by fraudsters. 

If you understand how scammers are targeting unsuspecting people, you’ll be better able to recognise when something doesn’t feel right and, hopefully, avoid falling victim to this appalling crime. 

It is important to take professional advice before making any decision relating to your personal finances. Information within this article does not provide individual tailored investment advice and is for guidance only. We cannot assume legal liability for any errors or omissions it might contain. Ethical Futures llp is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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