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Watch For Scams Newsletter. AI being used for virtual kidnapping scams
May 11, 2023

AI being used for virtual kidnapping scams

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AI being used for virtual kidnapping scams

Virtual kidnapping scams have been around for many years, but there is a new spin on a well-worn technique using AI.

The scammers use a sample of a persons voice that is fed into a machine learning algorithm which learned how the person speaks, giving the scammers a computer program that can speak like the victim.

Subbarao Kambhampati, a computer science professor at Arizona State University, told the New York Post that it's possible to spoof a voice in convincing fashion from just three seconds of audio.

Steering clear of this kind of attack isn't particularly affected by whether the person screaming down the phone is an impersonator or a slice of AI. The basics remain the same, and social engineering is where a lot of these attacks take shape.

It's not a coincidence that most of these stories involve the supposed kidnap victim being on holiday or away from the family home when the bogus call comes through. There are some things you can do to blunt the effect of virtual kidnap scams:

1. Be vacation smart. Avoid posting travel dates and locations that could add some fake legitimacy to a scammer’s call.

2. Make your data private. Revisit your online presence, and lock down or delete your data so scammers know less about you.

3. A plausible alert. Consider a password that family members can use to confirm they actually are in danger.

If you believe you have been a victim of this type of scam you should promptly report it to the IC3's website at The IC3's complaint database links complaints together to refer them to the appropriate law enforcement agency for case consideration.

Remember - always watch for scams!


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