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Voice Cloning Fraud : All you need to know

This article talks about Voice cloning cybercrime, it explains how it is carried out, how one can protect oneself from being a victim and what to do if you are a victim legally or otherwise.

Lakshmi Chand Chawla, a senior citizen, was tricked into sending ₹5,00,000 to the scammers after receiving a ransom demand via WhatsApp, which included his child’s voice asking for help and not to contact police. Panicked Mr. Chawla readily complied with the scammers’ demands, transferring ₹1,00,000 via PayTm immediately and requested time for sending remaining amount. Later he came to know that his son is safe and he was a victim of voice cloning.

Voice Cloning Fraud is based on the cloning of the voice of one of the victim’s acquaintances. The fraudster makes a clone of the voice of the victim’s acquaintance using Artificial Intelligence(AI) software and send a voice message or call the victim using that voice to convince or get their trust and then use that to demand money or get their personally(Aadhaar or PAN details) or financially(credit/debit card details or OTP) sensitive information and use it to commit various cyber crimes.

As per one survey, where 5000 random people got AI generated voice of their parents or spouse voice call/message, 85% of the respondents could not detect it was a AI generated voice, 48% went ahead and sent amount upto 50000.

I had discussed in detail about how voice cloning is done using deep fake AI software in my previous articles(deepfake). Please do check them out for details.

To protect yourself from voice cloning frauds :-

  • Always follow the principle of ‘ Zero Trust, Pause and Authenticate’ for all digital transactions and messages/calls from unknown numbers.
  • Check and verify if the message you got is authentic by calling that person or his close relative/associate before acting on it.
  • Keep your social media profiles private.
  • Secure your online activity with a VPN, firewall and good antivirus software and keep it updated always.
  • Use a codeword with your close relatives to confirm or check with them on information only you two know before trusting.
  • Check if it’s a phishing or spam call on free Apps like Phishbowl or TrueCaller etc or websites which has high ratings.
  • In doubt, Pay attention to unnatural pauses, robotic speech styles, or inconsistencies in communication.

If you are a victim of voice cloning fraud :-

Immediately call 1930 cyber helpline number or file a complaint at cybercrime.gov.in. Call the concerned bank and lodge a complaint to freeze the funds. If you have shared Aadhaar with someone, lock your Aadhaar card at uidai.gov.in. Change user ids and passwords/pins of exposed banking accounts. Don’t panic inform friends, family and post on your social media status that its fake and you have been extorted or defamed.

Remedies available to the victim legally in India :-

You can register a criminal case at your nearest cyber or children specific or regular police station, under the following legal sections or the Act as per sections prescribed by the police based on your case :

  • section 419 (punishment for cheating by impersonation) ,section 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property),section 463/464/465 (make a false document or false electronic record , forgery), and 499/500 (Defamation) of Indian Penal Code(IPC).
  • Section 66D (punishment for fraud by impersonation using computer), Section 66E (violation of privacy), and Section 67A (Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act, etc) under Information Technology Act(IT) Act 2000/08.

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