Senators request information about artificial intelligence scams targeting older Americans

WASHINGTON D.C. — Members of Congress are working to find out more about artificial intelligence scams targeting older Americans as the technology continues to evolve.


A bipartisan group of Senators sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requesting information about how the pace of innovation in AI technology is influencing scams and how it is impacting older Americans.

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The lawmakers are members of the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

The letter pointed to specific examples as concerns.

“Voice-cloning technology in particular may facilitate imposter scams by allowing scammers to closely replicate an individual’s voice using just a short audio sample,” the letter said. “In one case, a scammer used this approach to convince an older couple that the scammer was their grandson in desperate need of money to make bail, and the couple almost lost $9,400 before a bank official alerted them to the potential fraud. Similarly, in Arizona, a scammer posing as a kidnapper used voice-cloning technology to duplicate the sounds of a mother’s crying daughter and demand ransom.”

Read: 4 dangers that most worry AI pioneer Geoffrey Hinton

The Senators requested a response to their letter from the FTC by June 20th.

With more of our voices and images all over social media and the internet, it’s easy for a scammer to sound like someone else using AI.

“We’ve already seen scams where AI generates somebody’s voice, so it sounds like a loved one who is asking you to do something over the phone and it’s fake,” Alexandra Givens, CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology said.

Earlier this month, a Senate committee held a hearing about artificial intelligence and pointed to concerns about the unknowns surrounding AI and the potential harms.

“Impersonation fraud. Voice cloning. Deep fakes,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said.

“Many members of Congress do not understand artificial intelligence,’ Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said.

We asked the Better Business Bureau (BBB) about what people can do to avoid falling victim to these seemingly convincing scams.

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“If something doesn’t seem like it’s on the up and up, if it doesn’t sound 100 percent, hang up,” Melanie McGovern, Director of PR and Social Media for BBB said. “You just really want to have that conversation. Know the red flags and know don’t give them any information… We’re going to visit my in-laws this weekend. We’re going to have those conversations. They’re in their 80s. Talk about it.”