Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

Several “grandson’s” frauds in Quebec and in ; Lévis : the use of AI’discarded

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Several dozen Thousands of dollars have been taken by fraudsters in recent days thanks to the so-called “grandson” scheme.

  • Érik Chouinard (View profile)Érik Chouinard

Speech synthesis, based on artificial intelligence, makes it possible to generate spoken text from written text.

The police services of Lévis and Quebec are warning the population given an increase in cases of “grandson” type fraud. Over the past 48 hours, the Lévis police have opened 16 cases where this stratagem was used, without however linking them to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) software which makes it possible to imitate the voices of victims' relatives .

In this type of fraud, the criminal communicates with a victim by pretending to be a loved one or a person in a position of authority. He then asks for money by putting pressure on his victim for false reasons.

These attempts were not successful in all 16 cases, but substantial sums were still taken. In some cases, we are talking about several thousand dollars. I would say that it is very probably more than $10,000 that was [extorted] in all of these cases, indicates Jean-Sébastien Levant, spokesperson for the Police Department of the City of Lévis ( SPVL).

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Jean-Sébastien Levant, spokesperson for the Police Department the City of Lévis.

For the moment, the police force has not made any arrests on its territory in connection with these cases of fraud. At this time this is still under investigation. Investigators still need to meet witnesses in order to validate certain leads, the spokesperson specifies.

For its part, the Quebec City Police Service (SPVQ) arrested a 20-year-old woman and a 60-year-old man for fraud of more than $5,000 and for non-compliance with an undertaking in connection with fraud of grandson type. According to the police, the woman went to the victims' residences to collect the money.

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The investigation made it possible to link them to several other fraud cases in Quebec. The police are continuing the investigation, which could make it possible to link the people arrested to other similar cases in Quebec and Lévis.

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The telephone is very popular with fraudsters to trap elderly people.

For the moment, the SPVQ believes that the suspects would have succeeded in extorting more than 34 000 to several victims.

The police also seized a vehicle and two cell phones. The suspects were released on a promise to appear.

In publications published in recent days on social networks, certain Quebec users claim that artificial intelligence software was used in this type of fraud to imitate the voices of relatives of the victims. However, the two police forces do not confirm their use in recent cases.

Technologies continue to evolve, it is not excluded that this could happen in the future, but for the moment, we have not been informed of any cases directly linked to this type of technology, answers Jean-Sébastien Levant.

For him, fraudsters do not necessarily need to have very refined techniques since they take advantage of the panic and confusion they can cause. It must be understood that in the context where this type of fraud takes place, there is often a sense of urgency that sets in. People are called upon to make decisions quickly under the influence of emotion, underlines the police officer.

It is often by multiplying attempts that criminals end up finding a victim. You can make nine or ten attempts before successfully phishing a person. The periods of time over which these frauds take place do not allow the use of these technologies, which must be worked on in a certain way, adds the spokesperson for the Lévis Police Department.

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The ability of artificial intelligence to reproduce the human voice has made giant strides in imitating the subtleties of language with disconcerting realism.

The consultant in cybersecurity Steve Waterhouse nevertheless explains that it is not complicated to find software that allows you to reproduce voices from only a few samples containing certain keywords, which can sometimes be found on social networks .

The software is relatively easy to access. It takes a little knowledge, but no need for a master's degree in computer science, notes the consultant.

From the &x27; information provided, the AI ​​will seek to modulate the voice according to the intonations of the person. Thus, the precision and correctness of the reproduction depend on the quantity of data available.

And beyond the voice, Steve Waterhouse serves this warning: fraudsters can also support the credibility of their words with information that they find about their victims and their loved ones by doing research on social networks.

To protect against these extortions, he suggests people choose a secret password with their loved ones that could be used to confirm their identity over the phone.

For his part, Jean-Sébastien Levant invites the population to be on their guard as soon as a feeling of emergency sets in and rapid action is requested. If you have any doubt, hang up and make the calls yourself, contact the affected family member or, if it's the police department, contact the police department, he urges.

He also adds that the penal system in Canada does not allow the immediate release of individuals after the payment of any sum of money. Often, these are procedures that must be done in person and there is a lot of paperwork to complete, so it is not done over the phone, specifies the police officer.

With information from Marika Wheeler

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