As Valentine’s Day looms nearer, a stark warning emerges from cyber-security experts: romance scams are surging in India, with a staggering 66 per cent of individuals in the country falling prey to deceitful online dating schemes.
In a chilling revelation, it has been disclosed that in 2023 alone, 43 per cent of Indians became victims of AI voice scams, resulting in a financial loss for a staggering 83 per cent of those targeted.
A recent report by Tenable, the exposure management company, sheds light on the disturbing evolution of romance scams, which now seamlessly integrate traditional ploys with cutting-edge technologies such as generative AI and deepfakes.
The findings underscore a disconcerting reality: AI-generated deepfakes have reached a level of sophistication where more than two-thirds (69 per cent) of Indians admit to struggling to discern between artificial and authentic human voices.
Exploiting these technological advancements, scammers are crafting increasingly convincing personas to perpetrate romance scams, with celebrity impersonations, particularly targeting older demographics, becoming alarmingly prevalent.
Platforms like Facebook have unwittingly become breeding grounds for these fraudulent activities, luring victims into a false sense of security before orchestrating their deceitful schemes.
Chris Boyd, a staff research engineer at Tenable, issued a stern warning against deviating from established platforms into private conversations, where the protective layers of security are compromised. “Regardless of the involvement of generative AI or deepfakes, the watchword is caution,” Boyd cautioned.
Of particular concern are the vulnerable individuals, especially older widowed individuals or those experiencing memory loss, who are systematically targeted by these heartless criminals.
The report stresses the importance of scrutinising requests for money from newfound connections, as well as meticulously examining photographs and videos for any signs of manipulation or deceit.
“Increasing awareness and maintaining vigilance are our strongest weapons against these heartless manipulations, safeguarding love seekers from the treacherous web of AI-enhanced deception,” concluded Boyd.