A mother’s cell phone rings unexpectedly. She answers the call and hears the voice of her teen daughter frantically screaming for help. Seconds later, a deep-voiced male comes on the line demanding a $50,000 ransom payment.
Terrified, mom races home and finds her daughter safe in her bedroom. Soon enough, mom learns she’s been the victim of a so-called AI deepfake—a cloned voice sample used by scam artists employing artificial intelligence techniques to scare us into parting with our cash or private information.
This true story1 would be any parent’s worst nightmare. But it’s only one alarming example of the increasing sophistication of scam artists and the growing ease with which potential victims are targeted.
An estimated $2.6 billion was taken from Americans in the first half of 2023, and 67% of reported fraud losses originated on social media, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Social-media scams stole nearly $658 million, while website or app fraud took another $432 million. Scams that originated with phone calls accounted for another $426 million while email scams—the most prevalent of scam tools—accounted for $198 million in losses.2
Victims aren’t always the stereotype painted for us—a naïve centenarian struggling with cognitive decline. It could just as easily be any of us. The sad truth is many of those victims are unknowingly willing participants who simply don’t have the training to spot when they’re being deceived by a scammer.