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Home > Mumbai > Mumbai News > Article > AI voice scam cases swamp cyber cell Sounded just like my son

AI voice scam cases swamp cyber cell: Sounded just like my son!

Updated on: 28 March,2024 06:48 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Faizan Khan |

Scammers are using AI to mimic distress calls made by children to their parents, and extort money to “get them out of trouble”

AI voice scam cases swamp cyber cell: Sounded just like my son!

Illustration/Uday Mohite

Key Highlights

  1. Cybercriminals now use AI to mimic children’s voices, tricking parents to false scenarios
  2. They exploit parental instincts, prompting unwitting payments before deception is revealed
  3. Law enforcement has warned that criminals extract voice samples from social media

Imagine you are in the middle of a busy work day and you get a call from a police officer saying your son has raped someone or your daughter has blackmailed someone using a sex tape. As your mind reels from the horrid imagery, the officer offers to settle the matter for a hefty sum. And then comes the clincher. Your precious child comes on the line and pleads with you to save them. Which parent will not succumb and pay up?

Cybercriminals now use AI to mimic children’s voices, tricking parents into false scenarios like fake arrests. They exploit parental instincts, prompting unwitting payments before the deception is revealed. Law enforcement has warned that criminals extract voice samples from social media, heightening concerns in cyber cells.

Horrifying cases

One reported incident at Colaba police station involved a complainant receiving a WhatsApp call from an unknown individual claiming to be from the CBI, inquiring about his college-going son.

Police impersonation has been increasing using voice cloning techPolice impersonation has been increasing using voice cloning tech

“The individual posing as a CBI officer informed me that my son had been arrested in a rape case, with the FIR registration process underway. To prevent this, I was instructed to pay Rs 50,000,” said the complainant.

“He even offered to connect me with my son, handing the phone to my crying child, whose distressing voice made it impossible for me to discern whether it was my son or someone else,” he told the cops in this statement.

The complainant informed the police that he panicked and transferred Rs 50,000 to the unknown individual posing as a CBI officer.

“After I sent the money, he placed my call on hold for 15 minutes, claiming that there were media personnel present in his office demanding Rs 1 lakh. Despite expressing my inability to pay such an amount, I was coerced into transferring an additional Rs 50,000. Once again, they connected me to a child who sounded like my son,” he added.

The police stated that the complainant only realised he was being duped when the unknown person impersonating the CBI officer demanded an additional Rs 2.5 lakh, claiming the victim’s family was present and also seeking payment. The complainant then disconnected the call and found from his wife that their son was indeed at his college.

Another case was reported in Tardeo, where the complainant, a chartered accountant, received a call from an unknown person claiming to be a person named Durgesh and said, “Durgesh bol raha hu, (This is Durgesh talking), this is my alternate number.” The complainant recognised Durgesh as one of his acquaintances.

“During our brief discussion, the unknown caller informed me that his friend met with an accident, and his relatives were sending some funds to my account and asked me to forward the same to his GPay number,” explained the complainant.

“While conversing with the unknown person impersonating my friend, I received a message of Rs 1.45 lakh credited to my account, prompting me to transfer the same amount to Durgesh’s GPay number as instructed,” the complainant added in his statement. 

The complainant stated that he nearly forwarded Rs 95,000 to the unknown caller’s GPay number until his daily limits were exceeded. The unknown person impersonating the complainant’s friend then requested the remaining amount. However, the complainant sent screenshots to the WhatsApp number of the real Durgesh in his phone list, who then called back to inquire about the GPay screenshots. Only then did the complainant realise he was being duped, with someone else using voice cloning tools to deceive him.

Another case was reported to the Malad police station where cyber criminals employed similar techniques to extort R50 lakh from the victim. The victim claimed that an unknown person, posing as a CBI officer, informed him that his son had been arrested in a rape case. The victim was coerced into speaking to a child whose voice he didn’t recognise, causing him to panic and ultimately pay Rs 50,000.

Tech behind the scams

“Cybercriminals are using Retrieval-based-Voice-Conversion (RbVC), an AI tool, to clone voices by gathering samples from social media posts. This includes videos and audios, making it easier for them to deceive people. Parents, schools, and colleges sharing children’s performance videos are also contributing to this scam. It’s crucial to avoid posting videos of our kids to reduce this risk,” said cyber expert, Ritesh Bhatia, founder and director of V4WEB.

Bhatia also emphasised that police impersonation cases have been increasing due to various deceptive tactics, with voice cloning being just one type of cyber fraud. Concerned law enforcement agencies like the CBI must issue public statements to raise awareness.

“Cases are being reported to us, and our teams are actively investigating them. ” said Datta Nalwade, DCP Cyber (additional charge).

Rs 1 lakh
Total amount transferred to scamster

Rs 1.45l
Amount that notification stated was transferred to victim’s account

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