Voice AI Being Used To Trick Old People Into Thinking Their Grandkids Are In Trouble

Con artists are using voice AI to target the elderly by using their families' cloned voices to get money.

By Lyndon Nicholas | Updated

voice ai

Scammers like the notorious Ana Delvey have often used any trick in the book to make a quick buck. Now, more are employing new scams that utilize emerging and easily accessible technology. According to Futurism, con artists have been utilizing voice AI technology to take advantage of the elderly. 

The article outlines a number of cases where scammers have used AI technology to swindle unsuspecting victims out of thousands of dollars. One anecdote references a con run on the elderly parents of Benjamin Perkins, who were tricked into believing their son needed money to pay legal fees after killing a diplomat in a car accident. When they heard what they thought was their son’s voice on the phone, Perkins’ parents sent roughly the equivalent of $21,000 Canadian dollars in BitCoin to their son’s would-be lawyer, money that they never got back.

In the article, UC Berkeley forensics professor Hany Farid talked about how much easier things had become for voice AI scammers:

“Two years ago, even a year ago, you needed a lot of audio to clone a person’s voice. Now… if you have a Facebook page… or if you’ve recorded a TikTok and your voice is in there for 30 seconds, people can clone your voice.”

-Hany Farid

The above con is an example of how scammers with even a rudimentary understanding of technology can use voice AI combined with cryptocurrency and other encrypted technology to pull off cons that are increasingly harder to track. Moreover, if the average consumer’s knowledge does not keep pace with the changes in the sector of technology, then they will continue to be vulnerable in these kinds of situations.  

This is all troubling news for those who are active on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok. The growing shift of social media from picture- and text-based content to video-based content means that people’s voices are more likely to be widely available to the general public.

maximum age humans, elderly, old age

Historically the elderly are not as active on social media and don’t know about things like Elon Musk wanting to stick chips in people’s heads, and because of the general lack of understanding of these emerging technological trends, they’re especially susceptible to scams. Even before voice AI technology, the elderly have long been a community targeted by scammers, and so this new trend falls in line with what one might expect from grifters trying to make a fast buck. 

Voice AI has become a popular and fast-growing technology sector. One company providing voice AI services is ElevenLabs, whose voice synthesis technology has been trending on social media. Countless videos have been using their voice emulation technology to record videos with the voices of current president Joe Biden and past presidents Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush having various comical conversations. 

Although the above may seem innocuous, for as little as $5 a month, the average person suddenly has access to fairly advanced and sophisticated technology. According to Futurism, one journalist successfully used voice AI to break into his own bank account. 

Although technological advances are inevitable, and there are certainly good things that can come from these advances, they’ve also often been used for nefarious purposes. Voice AI is one of those emerging technologies that have the potential to benefit many, but in the wrong hands can be used as a tool to take advantage of those who are susceptible. Scammers have been using voice AI technology to con people over the phone, and the elderly and unsuspecting have been some of the most impacted.