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AARP Fraud Expert: AI Voice Cloning Sparks ‘Industrial Revolution’ for Criminals

AI speaks and imitates the human voice, text-to-speech or TTS, speech synthesis applications, generative Artificial Intelligence, and futuristic technology in language and communication.
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En español | AARP’s top fraud expert joined White House officials and industry leaders recently in a meeting aimed at helping the federal government fight back against the use of artificial intelligence–enabled voice cloning to commit fraud.

“Fraud targeting consumers is already at a crisis level, and generative AI promises to make a dire situation far worse,” warned Kathy Stokes, AARP director of fraud prevention programs, at the Jan. 31 event held by the U.S. National Security Council.

Stokes said a recent “very real-sounding but very fake phone call from President Biden during the New Hampshire primary” underscored the risk of AI voice cloning. As a result of those fake calls made to voters ahead of the election, the Federal Communications Commission this month made it illegal to use AI voice cloning in robocalls targeting consumers. With voice cloning software, criminals can impersonate someone's voice using just a few seconds of audio captured from a video on social media.

During the White House event, Stokes told the story of a grandmother at a recent AARP Fraud Watch Network support group meeting who said she was robbed of $45,000 after receiving a call from someone impersonating her grandson. “In an unsteady voice, he pleaded with her not to tell his parents, but that he had been in a car accident and hit a pregnant woman,” Stokes said. The “grandson” said he needed her help immediately and put her on the phone with someone he said was his lawyer.

“Imagine the panic of that grandmother who believed her beloved grandson was in trouble and she alone could help him,” Stokes said.

She said “impostor” or “grandparent” scams like the one she described are already all too common. “Marry the personal information of the target with the actual voice of the target’s grandchild [thanks to AI voice cloning], and it’s like the industrial revolution for criminals.”

The meeting was led by Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, and included heads of the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission as well as academic experts and telecommunications industry leaders.

AARP has long fought for laws and regulations to protect people 50 and older from fraud, and we’ve long worked to educate older adults about the latest schemes and offer support to victims and their families. We will continue to work with the federal government and others to address the growing threat of AI-enabled scams.

Visit AARP’s Fraud Watch Network website and listen to our true crime podcast The Perfect Scam to learn more about how to protect yourself. Read more about AI voice cloning scams and keep up with our scam and fraud coverage.

Natalie Missakian covers federal and state policy and writes AARP’s Fighting for You Every Day blog. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Haven Register and daily newspapers in Ohio. Her work has also appeared in the AARP Bulletin, the Hartford Business Journal and other publications.

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