6.10.24

Ep. 266: Fraud in the AI Era

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Fraud expert Kristy Desimone and financial education guru Scott Dobson join host Lynne Jarman-Johnson to discuss how AI technology is being used by fraudsters to scam folks out of money. Plus, our VP of Mortgages Josh Summerfield talks about when the right time to buy a home is as our episode’s Money Minute Expert.

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0:00:06.7 Lynne Jarman-Johnson: Money, I’m Home. Welcome in. I’m Lynne Jarman-Johnson with Consumers Credit Union. Joining us today, we have got such a great podcast for you, and it all is about fraud and artificial intelligence. It might make you a little leery, but I’ll tell you, we’re going to have the answers for you. And then don’t forget later, we’ve got our Money Minute Expert. We’re going talk about mortgages and how you can get in that house of your dreams. I’m Lynne Jarman-Johnson, joining us, our expert Scott Dobson, thank you so much for being with us. Kristy Desimone, you’ve seen our fraud expert. You’re all over the place. You’re presenting …

0:00:37.8 Kristy Desimone: Yeah. We’re going to get an education out there, and I love it. [laughter]

0:00:41.7 LJJ: It’s so great. Kristy, a few years back had said, “Hey, let’s do a fraud segment continuously on Money, I’m Home. And I’ll tell you, it is always the number one listened-to topic, and that is because every day a scam seems to just jump up out of nowhere. Now, here’s what’s been going on that is really I think concerning, and that is artificial intelligence. And people say, “You know what? No matter what, it’s coming, and it’s here and business are using it,” but it also has a little bit of a negative connotation because of such fake things that are happening.

0:01:14.9 KD: Right, correct. And at this point in time in the U.S., we haven’t seen a full-scale attack for AI just yet. It is coming, but we haven’t seen it, so there’s some things we have that you can do to …

0:01:24.1 LJJ: Wait, you just said this is truly coming no matter what.

0:01:27.0 KD: Correct. And we have seen it used in what we call a “grandparent scam,” where they use a voice that’s similar to the person who you love and they’re in trouble, and they use it to try get money out of you.

0:01:37.4 Scott Dobson: So, I’ve heard of that scan before with grandparents. Is there other stuff in the AI world that we should worry about? Are we going get emails from people, or is it going be phone calls? Or what should we be thinking about next?

0:01:48.6 KD: Yeah, so what we should really be thinking about is how to prevent someone who is calling pretending to be a loved one using some type of AI-generated voice, how we can prevent them from getting information. And a great way to do that is by setting up some type of passphrase or password with your family members, so that if they call, you can initiate that phrase or say something so that they would know that that’s the person they’re talking to.

0:02:11.9 LJJ: So now let’s talk about two important focuses when we’re talking about AI and voice recognition. Scott, you had mentioned grandparents and hearing a voice that you know. Kristy, tell us about that. How do they get that?

0:02:25.0 KD: Yeah. So sometimes when you have a phone number calling that you don’t recognize and you answer it, they are collecting that data in order to use it …

0:02:32.8 SD: They’re literally collecting your voice …

0:02:34.2 KD: Yes, they are!

0:02:35.8 SD: So, they can copy that.

0:02:36.3 KD: Yeah, so they can copy it and then use it later in a scam. But they can also do so with our Xbox headphones; things like that where you were talking into it. Maybe the people you don’t know. They can also use that to collect information and voice.

0:02:50.1 SD: So, a scammer calls me, asks me some questions, I answer a bunch of them, they collect my voice, then call my grandpa and say, in my voice, “Hey, I’m in an emergency, and I need money.” That’s what’s happening?

0:03:00.9 KD: Correct, yeah. So that’s how they’re getting those voices. And sometimes they have to fill it in. So, it can sound a little wonky, but it does sound pretty close.

0:03:08.8 LJJ: And so what you’re saying is two things. Number one, if a phone number comes up on your screen and you don’t know it …

0:03:15.8 KD: Don’t answer it. Don’t try to answer it. Don’t try and scam the scammer. We know that that’s popular. Just don’t answer it.

0:03:22.9 LJJ: And then on the Xbox and things, what are we to do except for just warn people … You had mentioned, make sure you have a password.

0:03:31.6 KD: Yeah. So it’s going happen at some point ’cause you’re going use those things. They’re fun; they are easy to use. But if you have a password set up with your family or a phrase that you say that they have to say back in order to know it’s really them, you can prevent something like that.

0:03:47.3 SD: That’s easy, like grandma’s maiden name or the street you grew up on, or anything that everyone in your family would know, right? But other people wouldn’t.

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0:03:52.2 KD: Right. Or you can use a phrase where it’s like, “Hey, we love spaghetti on Tuesdays,” [laughter] so that you could throw that into a conversation and the scammer would have no idea.

0:04:02.9 LJJ: That is a great idea. Is this happening across technologies? You mentioned the phone call, what about … chat is being used so much now and texting. And that might not be artificial intelligence in the sense of a voice, but it could be … Look at … “We found out information, and now we’re going to use it against you.”

0:04:22.7 KD: Yeah. And what they have as a big advantage is that fishing information gathering and that kind of stuff has been around for a long time. So they use email, they now have chat they can use, and so they’re just adding more sophisticated techniques to something they have already been using.

0:04:36.7 SD: When we get emails, I’ve been told a million times, “Don’t click on a link or at least know who it’s coming from.” Would you say the same thing here? If you get a call or solicitation or someone, to confirm who it is and then maybe try to find another way to understand if it’s the right person or not? I’m just trying to figure out if you get this, how do you protect yourselves or how do we tell … How do I tell my family how to protect themselves?

0:04:56.1 KD: Yeah. If they’re calling and asking for personal information, you want to hang up and reach that vendor or that person at a number you’ve reached them at before. So, something you’ve used where you’ve contacted Consumers Credit Union and got us, hang up and use that number. Or if it’s someone pretending to be a loved one, you want to make sure that you hang up if any money is asked for or any personal information and reach out to that loved one.

0:05:17.2 SD: And I’ve heard sometimes the scammers ask for things like for gift cards. Are those the types of things that we should be worried for? If they call and say, “I’m in jail. I need $500 in gift cards … ”

0:05:27.3 KD: Yeah.

0:05:27.9 SD: Is that what we should be worried about?

0:05:29.2 KD: Gift cards are a huge red flag. Don’t go out and buy a ton of gift cards. But also withdrawing large amounts of money, depositing in Bitcoin ATMs, or even … Recently I’ve heard as mailing cash. Someone mailing $10,000 in a FedEx envelope to whomever. Yes. So, any time the money is requested at any type of avenue, you can go ahead and assume that that’s a scam.

0:05:51.1 LJJ: Now, one of the scams that I’ve heard about are where they look at pockets of the population that might be in stress. I was with some friends of ours whose daughter just graduated from med school. And when she was at the height of applying for all of her residencies, she’s freaking out because she’s doing all of her work, study, and has to get her fellowships. And she gets a phone call, very similar, saying, “You owe this because of something that happened, and if you don’t pay it now, it’s going on your record.” The stress level then is so much higher, so you automatically think it’s true.

0:06:27.6 KD: Right, 100%. As we know with the scam that you shared, that you fell for, they will get you in a moment where you’re emotionally vulnerable, and they will use that in order to gather more information that you wouldn’t normally give if you were able to think calmly.

0:06:41.1 SD: So, if they’re asking you for information immediately, right now, that should be a red flag that possibly something’s going wrong.

0:06:47.0 KD: 100%. And we should always take a breath and consider what is actually happening. “Hey, what information are they asking me to provide? Does this seem normal for me to provide this type of information?”

0:06:57.1 LJJ: Tell me about membership right now. You are the one that is receiving, your awesome team receives the calls of where there might be a red flag and we want to help protect the membership. Is there something trending right now?

0:07:10.0 KD: So right now, we see a lot of impostor scams. People getting spoofed calls from either pretending to be us or other financial institutions asking for information or saying, “Hey, you have fraud on your account. We need to verify your debit card number,” all that information. We see it a lot, and the biggest red flag there is they’re asking for way more information than we would ever ask for.

0:07:33.6 SD: And probably if our members come to one of our offices asking for a lot of cash or something like that, probably our team is going to slow them down a little bit. And our members shouldn’t be worried about it; we’re just trying to protect them.

0:07:43.0 KD: Right. Our due diligence is to protect you and your information and the funds you’ve worked so hard for. So, we want to make sure we’re asking those extra questions, and we’re getting those answers.

0:07:52.1 LJJ: Tell us about your presentations you’re doing in the community. It has been so great to have so many different organizations reach out to say, “I really want our constituents to learn about fraud and how to protect ourselves.”

0:08:04.6 KD: Yeah. We’re really trying to reach out to as many people as we can to educate. We feel like education is the number one weapon we can use if we fall for a scam or trying to prevent falling from a scam. We love to get out there. We did the Kiwanis Club in South Haven. We did Christian Neighbors in Plainwell. We’re getting out there trying to make sure we inform everybody of what we’ve got.

0:08:25.1 SD: And I’m sure with all the new things that are popping up, you can go back and say, “All right, I have a new presentation because AI is coming online and these new things are coming.” So probably if you’ve heard about it two years ago, there’s probably a lot more information today.

0:08:36.1 KD: 100%. And more people are willing to share when they’ve been scammed, and that’s how we learn as it happens to everybody. How can we prevent it? What do we do when it happens? And can we share it with other people so they cannot fall for that same scam?

0:08:49.0 LJJ: Tell us a little bit about what you are most proud of, Kristy. It’s been almost three years that we’ve been communicating this over and over and over again. And yet as Scott just said, something is new every day.

0:09:02.2 KD: I think I’m most proud of the fact that we stay on top of it. We offer help to members. You can come in and get a cup of coffee, sit with us, we’ll go over everything. We love to educate, and we’re proactive. I think that’s my favorite thing, is how proactive we are.

0:09:16.3 SD: And we’ve got some awesome technology that I have had. When I went to make a big purchase, I get a phone call saying, “Are you really buying this [laughter] at Best Buy?” So, it’s nice to have that too to help us out.

0:09:25.0 KD: 100%. We stay on top of the technology, and we’re always trying to find something to help our members and prevent fraud.

0:09:31.0 LJJ: And don’t forget, we have a great website that is chock-full of such great information all in one place on fraud prevention. So, head to our website, consumercu.org, for more information. And Kristy, Scott, thank you so much. A wealth of information always here on Money, I’m Home. Don’t forget we’ve got our Money Minute Expert next.

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00:09:57.4 LJJ: Welcome in to our Money Minute Expert. The topic today is: When is the right time to buy a house? And our Money Minute Expert is Josh Summerfield. Hey Josh, you are our VP of mortgages here at Consumers Credit Union. When is the right time to buy a house?

00:10:12.2 Josh Summerfield: Now, right? Isn’t that—always the best time is now. No, I think, you know, if you’re trying to time things right, there’s no such thing as perfect timing, right? So, you’ve got to kind of think about all the things that are going on in your life and in your work and everything else and start to just try to put the pieces together, and you’re not going to find the perfect timing. So just make sure you’re prepared. So that way, when the house—that perfect house—does come along that you’re ready.

00:10:41.0 LJJ: And I—And the one thing that you’re always saying, Josh, is get pre-approved.

00:10:45.8 JS: Yeah, it’s important to get pre-approved because you don’t know when you’re going to be ready to pull that trigger and make that purchase. But you can be prepared to do so beforehand.

00:10:55.0 LJJ: Thanks so much for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe to Money, I’m Home: Your podcast for everything from finance to fitness at Consumers Credit Union. Wow, what an episode. Thank you so much for listening in to our podcast, Money, I’m Home. We have so many listeners from all over the world and we can’t thank you enough. This is Lynne Jarman-Johnson with Consumers Credit Union. Find out all the information you need at ConsumerCU.org.

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