Horrifying New Cyber Scam Leaves Even Most Aware Startled

(LibertyInsider.org) – The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t just reshaping office work — it’s also fueling a chilling new scam that tricks people into believing their loved ones are in danger. Imagine getting a call from a loved one who claims to be in danger and begs you for urgent help, only to find out later that it was a scammer using AI to mimic their voice. This new tactic is fooling even the savviest of scam spotters, marking a worrying shift in cybercrime.

One Arizona mother knows what it’s like to fall victim to this kind of scam first-hand. Jennifer DeStefano was driving to pick up her daughter from dance practice when she received a call on her mobile phone. To her horror, the voice on the other end sounded identical to her daughter’s. The distraught young girl pleaded for help, claiming that “bad men” took her.

Then, the call took a darker turn. A man’s voice came on the line and demanded DeStefano pay a ransom for her daughter. He also threatened to kidnap DeStefano, too.

The frazzled mother went back and forth with the alleged kidnapper, who attempted to arrange an in-person meeting. Thankfully, she managed to confirm that her daughter was safe and sound at practice before anything went further. But the level of realism in that call, which turned out to be nothing more than an AI voicebot, had the horrified mother totally convinced.

Creating fake voices using AI is shockingly easy. All cybercriminals need is a few voice samples gathered by posing as a caller conducting a “survey” or by finding videos posted online. They feed that data into a voice cloning platform, which uses the data to mimic the person’s voice, right down to cadence and tone.

Scammers can manipulate the bot to say anything afterward. They may even gather private details about the victim, expertly weaving them into the conversation to make it more convincing to the target.

Experts say the best way to avoid scams like these is to be skeptical when you receive unsolicited emergency calls, even if the voice sounds right. Try to remain calm and take time to independently verify claims by calling friends and family back through trusted channels. Avoid answering calls from unknown numbers, or block them entirely — and be cautious about sharing your recorded voice or highly personal details online.

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