‘Voice-changing’ AI potentially being used to mimic family in fraud cases: Ontario police

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Members of the Norfolk County OPP detachment say a resident, described only as an elderly individual, is out $9,150 in cash after falling victim to an emergency scam that they claimed involved a phone call from someone who sounded almost identical to a loved one.

“The individual who posed as the victim’s family member…provided very specific information during the course of the conversation. And according to the victim, the fraudster’s voice was almost identical to their family member’s,” said Const. Andrew Gamble.

“That is kind of indicative of some information being obtained, possibly through that family member’s social media platforms, but also, an indication that voice-changing technology may or may not have been used.”

OPP say the victim reported on Monday that they received a phone call believed to be from a loved one in custody following a crash, who urgently needed bail money.  They were told to go to an address in the county and hand over cash to someone claiming to be a bail bondsman – a position that does not exist in Canada.

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When asked if it’s possible the loved one was the actual caller, Gamble said, “All options are on the table until proven otherwise.” But he noted that the victim contacted their loved one after dropping off the cash and was told they had not been involved in any crash. It was at that point that the victim contacted the police.

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Gamble was unable to say if the victim would get their money back.

“We certainly wish that we could promise that. But there are certainly no guarantees when it comes to recovery of funds, especially in a situation where a cash transaction occurred.”

The potential use of AI in an alleged fraud “may be the first of its kind in Norfolk County” but Gamble said police would be naïve to think other communities will remain unaffected, “if they haven’t been impacted already.”

“Technology has taken leaps and bounds in recent years, specific to artificial intelligence. And there are a number of applications that can be utilized. And with respect to voice-changing technology, these are really capable of replicating very specific vocal patterns and with very high accuracy.”

Gamble said information-sharing between police forces is key and if police conclude that AI was in fact used, they will reach out to other services.

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