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BBB: Voice-cloning technology can scam people over the phone

People think they're talking to someone they know, but it's really a computer.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Better Business Bureau is warning new voice-cloning technology is targeting callers who think they're talking to someone else.

Imagine if you got a call and the voice on the other end was a loved one or someone else you know such as your boss. The person asks for money or information of some kind. What you don't know is that you're talking to a computer and are about to be scammed.

The Better Business Bureau warns that this is all possible thanks to new voice-synthesizing technology. It primarily targets business employees but poses a concerning threat to the public at large.

According to the BBB, a scammer calls or leaves a voicemail for an employee. It clones a supervisor's voice and asks for money to be wired for a "rush project."

To combat this scam, the BBB recommends everyone set up multi-factor authentication for email login and says businesses should train employees on web safety and enact policies where any payment requests or changes be confirmed.

Scam Alert: New Tech Creates Fake Voicemails Everyone knows to be on the lookout for phony emails - especially at work. Scammers can easily make messages that appear to come from anywhere - from your boss's account to the office printer. But what about voicemail?

The Federal Trade Commission recently hosted a panel discussing the benefits and potential pitfalls of this voice-cloning technology.

"If I can follow up a fake spear phishing email with a phone call with somebody who sounds like your contact where you owe money, it's huge dollar losses," said Mona Sedky, a prosecutor with the Department of Justice Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, during that panel.

The official website of the Federal Trade Commission, protecting America's consumers for over 100 years.

This latest scam is just one example of technology intended for good taking a bad turn.

But the potential to change lives is remarkable. The panel also featured demonstrations of this same voice-cloning software being used to give authentic voice to patients losing their own.

John Costello, with Boston Children's Hospital, demonstrated how the voice software was able to bank words using a patient's voice and create a computer voice that sounds just like them. The synthesized voice would help someone losing theirs communicate with their own emotion and inflection as their verbal condition deteriorates.

"It's very clear the importance to the person at risk of losing the ability to speak and the people around them to have authentic voice," said Costello.

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