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Don’t Fall Prey to Artificial Intelligence Scams: Tips for Recognizing and Guarding Against AI Scammers

Despite the many benefits of artificial intelligence, scammers have utilized it in creative ways to make their tactics subtler and more effective. Read on to learn how you can detect a scam and what you can do to keep scammers out of your pocket.

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Despite the many benefits of artificial intelligence, scammers have utilized it in creative ways to make their tactics subtler and more effective. You’ve probably received a phishing email looking like it came straight from a friend or a business you are connected with. Maybe your phone rings several times a day with spam calls.

Some scams are easy to detect, but with AI they are getting trickier. How can you protect yourself from believable scams?

Read on to learn how you can detect a scam and what you can do to keep scammers out of your pocket.

How Is AI Used in Scams?

Scammers use AI to gather personal information from social media profiles and other sources online so that they approach you more personally and thus, more convincingly. 

If you receive text messages, emails, or even voice calls that appear to be from a close friend, family member, coworker, or a business you have been associated with, what reason do you have to distrust it? The less aware you are of these tactics, the more vulnerable you are to falling prey to them.

Voice Cloning

Scammers can manipulate voice recordings from your social media page or from a phone call to produce a new voice recording that sounds realistically like your voice. They may then use the recording in a phone call to a friend or family member to convince them that you are in an emergency situation and in urgent need of money. 

Alternatively, they can use voice recordings to gain access to your financial accounts at institutions that use voice recognition prompts to ensure security.

Deepfake Videos

AI can be used to generate or manipulate multimedia content to create videos portraying people doing or saying things they never said or did. The goal may be to impersonate an individual or to make viewers believe a false narrative. 

Synthetic media can be very convincing, especially if the individual portrayed is a loved one or a person of high authority. Scammers have used this technology to fraudulently request money transfers to illegitimate institutions. It has successfully convinced many people, such as this CFO in the United Kingdom, to part with significant amounts of money. 


Phishing is the technique of sending emails or other messages allegedly from trusted companies or people to convince you to give out personal information, such as passwords, phone numbers, social security numbers, and credit card details.

A phishing email commonly takes the form of a warning about suspicious activity in an account you have with a reputable company. The email directs you to change your password to “protect” yourself. If you follow the prompt, before you know it, the fraud has been successful, and the perpetrator has your login information.

Helping Seniors Recognize a Ruse: Top Signs of an Artificial Intelligence Scam

You can guard against these AI scams by learning how they commonly present themselves:

  • You receive an unsolicited email requesting personal or private information. 
  • The sender demands secrecy.
  • The caller makes an unrealistic offer.
  • You are pressured to act immediately, often by giving money through a wire transfer, gift card, or payment app. The caller/sender says that if you don’t act now, you will have your account shut down, charges filed against you, etc.
  • You are given specific instructions about how to send money, such as staying on the phone with the caller until the transaction is complete.

How Many People Have Been Scammed by AI?

According to an investigation by McAfee, one in four adults has had experience with a voice scam, whether personally or through a family member or acquaintance. Of those who had direct experience with a scam, 77% were deceived into giving up money, sometimes in significant amounts. One-third of those who gave money to scammers handed over more than $1,000.

McAfee research indicates that voice-cloning tools can replicate a person’s voice with up to 95% accuracy, making it very difficult to distinguish between what is real and what is fake. A fraudulent call may not even need to be that accurate in order to fool someone. When emotions kick in, as they do when a loved one is in need, our brains tend to take shortcuts that result in inaccurate judgments.

A meta-analysis of fraud attempts among the elderly population concluded that one in 18 cognitively intact elders living in community homes for seniors are affected by scams. The elderly are especially vulnerable because they may have greater difficulty distinguishing between legitimate and fraudulent messages.

In addition, elders typically have more time and money than younger people and are thus more attractive targets for scammers. Besides phishing messages, common scams targeted at elders include:

  • Romance scams: A person forms a relationship with someone on social media or a dating website who gains their trust and then fabricates a story about needing money or financial account details.
  • Grandparent scams: A family member, often a grandchild, claims to be in financial distress, needing funds wired immediately.
  • Government impersonation scams: Scammers claiming to be from the IRS, Medicare, or Social Security Administration threaten termination of benefits or even arrest unless prompt payment is made.
  • Tech support scams: Scammers claiming to be tech support representatives request remote access to a personal computer or demand a repair fee.
  • Artificial intelligence phone scams
    • Expired warranty calls: Scammers claiming to be from your car dealership say your car’s extended warranty is about to lapse, and you need to pay to keep it.
    • The “Can you hear me?” call: Your recorded “yes” can be used as voice verification to authorize charges on your credit card.

10 Ways Seniors Can Protect Themselves From Artificial Intelligence Scams

#1: Be Skeptical

Be wary about distressed calls from a loved one or messages from a famous person. Scammers prey on emotions — such as concern or excitement — that they call forth with a fabricated scenario.

#2: Create a Safeword

With your family members and trusted close friends, set up a codeword they must provide if they call, text, or email asking for help. This should be a word or phrase that only people you trust would know.

#3: Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

This means you must provide two pieces of information — such as your password, a biometric factor like a fingerprint, or a code sent to your phone — in order to gain access to your email or financial information. Requiring two-factor authentication makes it more difficult for hackers to access private information. 

#4: Fact-Check and Verify

Since caller ID can be faked, hang up and call the person or institution back (by dialing their number, not using redial) to confirm their identity. You can also ask them to give you detailed answers that aren’t publicly available so you will know whether it is really your loved one or acquaintance calling and not a scammer.

#5: Let Unknown Calls Go to Voicemail

It’s important that you avoid speaking with scammers. They can use even a few seconds of audio to gather enough information about your voice and inflections to create a clone of your voice. If you receive a call from an unknown number, let it go to voicemail. 

#6: Never Give Out Private Information to Someone Who Contacts You

Banks and other reputable institutions will not request private information over the phone. If you are prompted to reveal such information, you can be confident that the prompt is not from a legitimate source.

#7: Strengthen Your Privacy Settings on Social Media

Tighten your circle of friends on social media to include only those you know personally. Edit your privacy settings so your posts are only visible to these friends. Remove audio recordings of yourself or loved ones to avoid providing material for voice cloning.

#8: End the Call

Do not continue speaking with a scammer, as your voice can be recorded and manipulated to create a clone. If the call was allegedly from someone you know, call the person back using the number known to be theirs.

#9: Never Send Money in Response to a Phone Call

Always verify the identity of the person requesting money before sending it. Do this by hanging up and calling back using a trusted phone number. Do not make quick decisions, as scammers take advantage of your sense of urgency to pressure you to act immediately without thinking rationally.

#10: Flag and Report Potential Artificial Intelligence Voice Scams

Reporting scams as soon as you are targeted can help raise awareness among the general population so more people are protected. You can report suspected fraud to the Federal Trade Commission so a case can be brought against the offending party. Contact your local law enforcement if you believe you have been a victim of fraud.  

Senior Services of America: Creating a Safe Space for Seniors

Our main goal is to provide a positive experience for our residents and their families, whether in our independent living, assisted living, or memory care communities. We strive to cultivate a nurturing sense of belonging within each community so our residents never feel they have to face things alone. If you have questions about the legitimacy of someone who tried to contact you, there is always someone available to help you navigate the issue.Find your nearest Senior Services of America community today.