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Aussies warned after cancer victim loses $5,000 to disturbing new AI scam

Scammers are now using AI to replicate the voice of loved ones. This is how they do it.

Couple Fred and Kathy who were scammed out of thousands of dollars.
Fred and Kathy truly believed they were talking to their son on the phone, but it was actually a scammer. (Source: KHOU 11 News)

It would be every parent's worst nightmare to hear the strained tears of their child calling in desperate need of help. Sadly, scammers are using parents' love to scam them out of thousands.

For one Texas couple, Fred and Kathy - who asked for their last name to remain private - this became a reality when they received a call from someone sounding exactly like their son claiming he had been involved in a car accident and needed $5,000 for bail.

Fred told KHOU 11 News the person on the phone told him and his wife that the accident resulted in another person being hurt.

"I could have sworn I was talking to my son. We had a conversation," Kathy told KHOU 11 News.

The scammer went to extraordinary lengths to convince Kathy and Fred the situation was dire, even claiming the crash victim was a pregnant woman who lost her baby.

Fearing for what may happen to her son, Kathy pushed back her cancer treatment to get the money as soon as possible.

Authorities said they believed the scammers used artificial intelligence to clone their son's voice.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch told Yahoo Finance scammers were regularly using more sophisticated software.

“With the emergence of new technologies, Scamwatch continues to see growing sophistication in scam approaches and is alert to the risks AI presents,” a spokesperson said.

“This makes scams harder for the community to identify. The community should continue to approach any requests for personal information or money with caution and exercise caution when clicking on hyperlinks.”

Scamwatch said that, while no reports had been made to the organisation about AI being used in this way in Australia yet, there was a real risk to the community.

“To date, we have not had any scam reports that specifically point to the use of AI,” Scamwatch said.

“We continue to work with telecommunications and digital-platform-industry partners to identify methods to detect and disrupt scams.”

A recent investigation by The Guardian found that with just four minutes of audio, a person's voice could be replicated to fool Services Australia's voiceprint technology.

Voiceprint technology allows a person to verify their identity through the phone by saying key words or phrases.

Services Australia told The Guardian that despite their findings, it's technology was a "highly secure" authentication method.

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