Houston couple scammed out of thousands after thieves use AI to clone their son’s voice
A Texas couple say they were scammed out of thousands of dollars by thieves who used artificial intelligence to make their voices sound like their son’s.
Houston-based Fred and Kathy, who did not provide their last name, spoke with KHOU about their experience, including the intricate back story the scammers gave them involving a fake car crash with a pregnant woman and their son being badly injured.
‘This is a serious situation. He did hit a lady that was six months pregnant,’ Kathy said she was told. ‘It was going to be a high-profile case and she did lose the baby.’
The thieves told the parents they needed $15,000 to bail their son out of prison and they took the situation so seriously that Kathy had to push back chemotherapy for her cancer.
Fred and Kathy said they are now telling their story in the hopes that it might prevent someone else from finding themselves in a similar and growingly common situation.
A Houston, Texas couple say they were scammed out of thousands of dollars by thieves who used artificial intelligence to make their voices sound like their son’s
Fred and Kathy said the ordeal began last Wednesday when their home phone rang. Upon picking up, they said they heard the alarmed voice of their own son.
The father said the person on the other end of the phone told him that he had been in a bad car accident and that he had hurt another person.
The couple were immediately convinced it was their own child in need of help.
‘I could have sworn I was talking to my son. We had a conversation,’ Kathy told KHOU.
Authorities, however, said it was most likely artificial intelligence that spoofed their son’s voice.
The scammer told the frightened mother and father that their son was in the county jail and was going to be charged with DWI. The person also said their son had sustained bad injuries including a broken nose in the crash.
Still believing her child to be in danger, Kathy said she did not hesitate.
‘You’re messing with my kids. I’ll do anything for my kids,’ Kathy said.
‘They actually don’t need as much as you think,’ said Eric Devlin (pictured) with Lone Star Forensics. ‘They can get it from different sources – from Facebook, from videos that you have public, Instagram, anything you publish,’ Devlin continued
They were told $15,000 is the amount they needed to bail out their son, but the number was eventually lowered to $5,000. The scammers even offered to come and pick the money up to expedite their son’s release.
It wasn’t until after the money had already been handed over that they realized they had been tricked; the couple’s son had been at work the whole time.
Shockingly, one forensics expert said not only are situations of vocal cloning becoming common, but it’s not even that difficult for scammers to achieve.
‘They actually don’t need as much as you think,’ said Eric Devlin with Lone Star Forensics.
‘They can get it from different sources – from Facebook, from videos that you have public, Instagram, anything you publish,’ Devlin continued.
Fred and Kathy are now using their story to help protect others.
‘I mean we scrounged together the $5,000, but the next person could give them the last cent that they own,’ Kathy said.
Instances of artificial intelligence stirring up trouble on the internet and in real life have become commonplace in recent months and even some of the most notable names have not been immune.
In February, a deepfake video of Joe Rogan promoting a libido booster for men went viral on TikTok with many online calling it ‘eerily real.’
At the time, the video caused a major wave of fear over worries that it could spark serious scams and waves of misinformation being spread.
Many Twitter users in February noted that it is illegal to recreate someone with artificial intelligence to promote a product.
The ‘eerily real’ clip shows Joe Rogan discussing the brand Alpha Grind with guest Professor Andrew D. Huberman on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast
The clip also shows users how to find Alpha Grind on Amazon
One user, amazed by the deepfake ad, said: ‘Moderation for deepfakes will become more prevalent within the advertising realm soon. Bullish on advertisement monitoring software.’
The clip shows Rogan and Professor Andrew D. Huberman on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast Huberman talking about the male enhancer that claims to increase testosterone.
The video pans to Amazon to show users where they can find Alpha Grind – and the clip shows a 15 percent off coupon for the enhancer.
The deepfake of Rogan is just one of many released to the masses – one in 2022 showed Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg thanking democrats for their ‘service and inaction’ on antitrust legislation.
Source of data and images: dailymail