An AI needs just three seconds of a person’s voice to create a convincing duplicate – and scammers in the UK are already using the technology to con people into sending them money.
Figures from McAfee Labs say that almost a quarter of Brits say themselves or a friend have already been targeted.
A year or so ago, text or WhatApps from relatives apparently stranded abroad were the cutting edge of tech fraud.
READ MORE: Chilling AI scam cloned 'kidnapped' girl's voice in call to mum to demand ransom
The so-called “Hi Mum” WhatsApp messages resulted in reported losses of around £1.5 million in the UK over a four-month period last year. But now criminals are turning to increasingly sophisticated AI tools to swindle their victims.
Research by McAfee has found that voice-cloning tools are capable of replicating how a person speaks with up to 95% accuracy.
All they need is a sample of someone’s voice. And roughly half of us share a recording of our voice online at least once a week.
McAfee’s research reveals scammers are using AI technology to clone voices and then send a fake voicemail to or call the victim’s contacts pretending to be in distress.
Around 65% of adults said they weren’t confident that they could identify the cloned version from the real thing, so it’s no surprise that this technique is gaining momentum.
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The easiest way to protect yourself from these scammers is to prepare a question or key word in advance with your close relatives so it’s easy to identify them.
One of the people surveyed, Joaquin, said: “I’ve had this call twice this past year. It frightened the hell out of me. I asked a few questions. They didn’t want me to tell grandma, l asked when they last spoke to grandma, they said two weeks ago. Grandma has been deceased a few years.”
McAfee surveyed 7,054 people globally including 1,009 adults in the UK.
It found that almost a quarter of Brits report themselves or a friend have already experienced some kind of AI voice scam, with 1 in 12 targeted personally and 16% saying it happened to someone they know.
Nearly four in five victims confirmed they had lost money as a result.
The cost of falling for an AI voice scam can be significant, with 40% of people who’d lost money saying it had cost them over £1,000, while 6% were duped out of sums between £5,000 and £15,000.
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