When it comes to artificial intelligence, better known as "AI," there's no shortage of opinions out there. On one hand, you've got groups who are delighted at the concept. They believe that AI is a wonderful benefit to humans, because AI will (hat tip to ProCon.org):

  • Make everyday life more convenient and enjoyable, improving our health and standard of living
  • Offer accessibility for people with disabilities
  • improve workplace safety

Others are not at all happy about where they see AI taking humanity, saying that AI will:

  • Harm the standard of living for many people by causing mass unemployment as robots replace people
  • Repeat and exacerbate human racism
  • Pose dangerous privacy risks
Getty Images
Getty Images

Both Groups May Be Right, But Here In Illinois, We Know That AI Is Already Being Used To Scam People

Dennis Horton is the director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and he says that scam artists here in Illinois are combining AI with an older, established scam called "The Emergency Scam:"

With major advancements in technology, scammers now can replicate a person’s voice so realistically that fake phone calls sound exactly like your relative. Or you might receive a fake email or text. Artificial intelligence (AI) and deep-fake technology pose serious threats to the public.

Your “grandmother” might call to say she lost her wallet, or your “grandson” could text he was arrested or had a serious accident. The con artist sounds so much like your relative that you wire money. The danger is you react immediately, without thinking, because you want to do everything possible for your loved one. That’s what scammers want you to do.

Older man looking in distance when using smart phone to talk with family
This demographic is right in the con artist's crosshairs. (Getty Images)

The Good News In All This Talk About AI Scammers Faking The Voice Of Your Loved One Is That There's A Fairly Easy Way To Keep Yourself From Being Tricked

Simply come up with a codeword that you share amongst family members. When our children were small and we were working on the whole "stranger danger" thing, the way we made sure that no one could ever trick our kids into getting in the car with someone that we didn't send was to come up with a family codeword.

Our word was Superman. Easy to remember.

If someone were to have told our kids to come with them, they would be asked for the codeword. If they knew it, our kids knew that this person was okay. If not, our kids knew to run.

Do the same thing with your family to make sure they're not fooled by some criminal using AI to trick them. No matter how real the voice on the other end of phone might sound, if they don't know your codeword, they're the bad guys.

This guy's story about how his parents got taken by scammers is pretty terrifying:

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