Digital deception is becoming very sophisticated and the line between facts and fiction is growing thinner than ever before. Our lives are now more virtually connected, making it very normal for friends and family members to have a chat on video calls. But what if these video calls are nothing but frauds?
In July, a Kerala man was cheated of Rs 40,000. The victim, Radhakrishnan, received a video call from an unknown number. Upon picking up the call, he found that the image of the person on the call resembled one of his former colleagues. A few minutes into the call, the caller asked for money for a medical emergency. It was only after he transferred the amount that Radhakrishnan realised that he had fallen prey to an AI scam.
A similar incident occurred in China where a deepfake scam led the victim to believe he was sending 4.3 million Yuan (over Rs 5 crore) to his friend. But when his friend told him that he was unaware of any such transfer, the man reported the scam to the authorities.
Fake video calls are not common, but with the technological advancements, they are becoming prevalent. It is very easy to make deepfake videos online through certain free applications. The only thing scamsters need is access to a persons’ picture and voice, which is easy to obtain through a person’s social media profile.
Here are a few tips to safeguard yourself against the perils of fake video calls.
Be wary of calls from unknown numbers
It is always better to investigate calls from unknown numbers. If the number is not saved in your contact list or you do not recognise the caller, it is better to proceed with caution.
Observe the quality of the video. In case of fake video calls, the quality is generally poor and the background could be blurred.
Check for unnatural speech pattern
AI-generated voices usually lack natural cadence and may sound robotic. Pay attention to odd pauses or abrupt speech transitions.
Check for background voices
AI-generated voices usually have no noise in the background, since these are made in controlled, noise-free environments. If there is pin-drop silence in the background, this could be a sign of being an AI generated video call.
Verify the caller’s identity by asking a few open-ended questions. Keep the conversation going for a few minutes and check if your answers match theirs. If possible, try to call back the same person using the contact details that you have, see if they are aware of the recent video call.
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Record and analyse
If you are suspicious, record these calls if possible and try to run them through voice analysis tools. There are a few AI-voice detectors available online.
If a familiar face is asking for money citing an emergency, take a minute, tell them you will respond in a while and then cross-check the identity of the person.
In case you fall victim to the scam, report it to the nearest police station so that others do not fall prey to such scams.