CHICAGO - Attorney General Kwame Raoul today urged Illinois residents to be aware of phone scammers potentially using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to mimic the voice of a loved one.

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Scammers have long used the ploy of claiming a loved one is in trouble to convince targets to send a payment or share personal information. In a new and unnerving twist on this scam, criminals are using AI technology to mimic the voice of a target’s family member, so it sounds like the person is calling seeking help. The technology allows scammers to use snippets of audio, which are often readily available through videos posted to social media accounts, to clone voices for scam calls.

“These criminals are very good and convincing at what they do. Their goal is to catch you off guard, scare you into sending payment and disappear before you realize what happened,” Raoul said. “Getting a call from what sounds like a family member in distress is upsetting, but you may not be able to trust the identity of the voice on the line. Take a deep breath, slow down and take steps to confirm the identity of the caller, especially if they are pushing you to send a payment or disclose personal information.”

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If a caller’s identity is uncertain, Raoul advises hanging up and calling the person back on a number confirmed to be theirs. Families can also choose a codeword or phrase that they can use to identify each other. When choosing a codeword, it is important that it not be shared externally or based on information that is publicly available or posted to social media.

Scams using AI have been identified as a rising threat to consumers. Last year, the Federal Trade Commission issued a warning about voice-cloning scams, and an executive order on AI, issued by President Joe Biden in October, notes the potential use of the technology to commit fraud. While Raoul’s office has not received direct reports of AI scams targeting Illinois residents, Attorney General Raoul is urging people to be on the lookout for this new evolution of a common scam.

Criminals may be using new technologies to make their scams more effective, but they continue to deploy many of the same tactics used in more traditional scams. Attorney General Raoul identified some red flags consumers should be on the lookout for to avoid common scams:

  • Scammers Come to You. They may send you an unsolicited email or text message, call you or knock on your door. Be wary if someone you didn’t contact is reaching out to sell you something or asking for personal information.
  • Scammers Pressure You to Act Quickly. Their goal is to get you to send payment before you get a chance to think about it or discuss it with a trusted family member or friend.
  • Scammers Want Your Personal Information. They may claim to be the IRS, the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Postal Service, your electric provider, a bank, or anyone you might trust. If you are a customer, these entities already have your information and don’t need you to provide it. If they are legitimate, they have specific and familiar ways to contact you or request payment.
  • Scammers Want You to Pay in Unusual Ways. They may ask you to buy a gift card and read the numbers, wire money, set up a cryptocurrency account, or use a peer-to-peer app to send money directly to them. Once you read the numbers from the card, wire the money, or hit send on that peer-to-peer app, it is nearly impossible for you to get that money back.
  • If It Sounds Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is. Scammers often make you an offer that sounds too good to be true, then use that bait to ask for an upfront payment or personal information before they can “close” the deal.

If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, Raoul encourages you to file a complaint on the Attorney General’s website. Consumers can also call one of the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Hotlines:

1-800-386-5438 (Chicago)
1-800-243-0618 (Springfield)
1-800-243-0607 (Carbondale)
1-866-310-8398 (Spanish-language hotline)

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