How artificial intelligence (AI) voice technology is used in phone scams

November 1, 2019
Hand holding phone symbolizing artificial intelligence voice technology

“Hey, Siri. Set a reminder to buy bread tomorrow.” 

“Alexa, what’s the weather tomorrow?”

“Okay, Google. What Italian restaurants are nearby?”

We often speak to artificial intelligence (AI) voice technology without giving it another thought. And when that AI voice speaks back to us, we trust it’s going to do what we asked. Many of us have become accustomed to communicating with AI voice technology in our day-to-day lives to help us with basic tasks.

What happens when that technology is taken a step further, and instead of Siri on the other end we find voice technology being used with malicious intent?

As reported in Forbes, that’s exactly what happened to an employee of a UK-based energy firm, who believed he was on the phone with the company CEO when in reality he was talking to a technological facsimile programmed to request a large amount of money.

“He explained that the CEO recognized the subtle German accent in his boss’s voice—and moreover that it carried the man’s ‘melody,’” writes Jesse Damiani.

Three different phone calls were made to request payment, all in the “voice” of the CEO. The victim replied to the initial request, trusting his boss was on the line. It wasn’t until the third call, when a follow-up payment was requested, that the victim began to question the validity of the request.

While still being investigated, it is believed that commercial software was used to create the voice and make the call. If so, this “makes this the first known instance of AI voice mimicry being used for fraud (though it is of course possible other such instances have occurred),” says Damiani. But that doesn’t mean it will be the last.

The use of AI voice technology takes traditional scam methods of posing as the IRS, Social Security Administration, or credit card companies to an entirely new and dangerous level world-wide. The potential for use by terrorists, criminal networks, and enemy governments could be catastrophic without appropriate cyber defenses in place.

This is why it’s pivotal for companies to have staff that are skilled in cyber and information security. As reported by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “By 2022, the global cybersecurity workforce shortage has been projected to reach upwards of 1.8 million unfilled positions.”

Capitol students studying information and cybersecurity take courses such as Introduction to Incident Handling and Malicious Code, Secure Data Communications and Cryptography, Malware Analysis/Reverse Engineering. These courses help prepare students for advanced careers in preventing cyberterrorism and increasing cyber defenses.

Want to learn about cybersecurity? Capitol offers bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees in cyber and information security. To learn more about Capitol’s degree programs, contact

Categories: Cybersecurity