A 60 Minutes segment highlights various fraudulent schemes to watch for while online. In particular, it looks at how AI is making it harder to tell what is a scam and what isn’t.

Thieves Use AI Voices, Chatbots to Steal Money from Unsuspecting Internet Users

It is estimated that roughly $10 billion a year goes into the hands of online computer scam artists. That’s a huge amount of cash that is coming out of your grandparents and your parent’s pockets. Maybe your pockets as well?

While stories about these scams proliferate, the new and more powerful AI is contributing to the devastating results.The CBS show 60 Minutes had a feature and an article this week about several families who were victims of these scams. The story focuses on 4 elderly people who got scammed, but it’s clear that age makes no difference when it comes to scams using AI.

Sharon Alfonsi interviewed people who fell for different ways this crime was committed. Alfonsi asked how much money each person lost:

Steve Savage: $14,000. Judy Attig: $7,600. Judy Attig and her husband Ron, a retired ironworker, were victims of the same “grandparent scam” as Susan Monahan.

The Grandparents Scam

After receiving a call that sounded like their grandson, Susan Monohan said she heard a terrible story of an accident involving a pregnant woman. Once the scammer had her believing the story, they kept her on the line while she went to the bank. Then a voice claiming to be a lawyer got on the line and gave instructions on how to get the money to their grandson to bail him out of jail.

So Monohan got the $9,000 and moments after she got back from the bank a courier showed up at her front door to take the money.

The scammers used AI to imitate the grandson’s voice. Just as deep fake photos and videos can be used to trick people, audio can also be “deep faked” so well it’s nearly impossible to distinguish from someone’s real voice.

Often Scams Go Unreported

Getting conned out of thousands of dollars is enough to make anyone so upset they refuse to report the crime to authorities or to their family members.

Scott Pirrello is a deputy district attorney who runs San Diego’s Elder Justice Task Force. He says studies show only one in every 20 seniors who’ve been scammed, report it. Often, they’re just too embarrassed.

In the interview, Scott Pirrello says what most people who have not experienced this think,

” ‘Well, these people must have dementia or Alzheimer’s,’ It’s not the case. Our victims are sharp as a tack. We had a woman, 66 years old, she came home, she got a message on her computer from Microsoft and the message said that she had a virus on her computer. And then that virus had somehow infected her financial accounts. Within a matter of weeks, this victim had lost $800,000.”

Pirrello says more help is needed from law enforcement and the banking and retail industries to protect seniors. The FBI reports over the past two years, the losses from digital theft have doubled.

And it isn’t just seniors that are being targeted. We all are potential victims of scammers that have the ability to misuse AI for their illegal ventures.

“The trends and—and the data are horrifying. We have the senior population is growing exponentially every year. We have this dynamic of under-reporting and then we have the technology coming. People are convinced that AI is playing a part in maybe pretending it’s the grandchild’s voice. We’re all just next on the conveyor belt and we all need to do a better job” says Pirrello.

If you missed the 60 Minutes episode you can view it at the link posted below. It is well worth the 14 minutes of time it will take to view the entire story. There are dozens of ways scammers try to defraud you. Try to stay abreast of these.

60 Minutes even brought in a friendly hacker who showed how in just a few minutes they could get into the CBS computer system to take whatever they wanted. Including the 60 Minutes script for the week.

read more at cbsnews.com