Deepfakes, GenAI amplifying romance scams in India, warn researchers

New Delhi: As Valentine’s Day approaches, cyber-security researchers on Monday said that romance scams are on the rise in India and 66 per cent of people in the country fell prey to an online dating scam.

In 2023, 43 per cent of Indians became victims of AI voice scams and 83 per cent of those who were scammed lost money.

In recent years, romance scams have undergone a chilling transformation, merging traditional tactics with advanced technologies like generative AI and deepfakes, according to a new report by Tenable, the exposure management company.

“AI-generated deepfakes have become sophisticated enough that more than two-thirds (69 per cent) of Indians say they cannot differentiate between AI and a person’s real voice,” the findings showed.

Scammers are now leveraging generative AI and deepfake technologies to create more convincing personas in romance scams.

“I strongly advocate for heightened vigilance when coerced away from established platforms into private conversations, where the protective layers of the initial site are forfeited. Regardless of the involvement of generative AI or deepfakes, the watchword is caution,” said Chris Boyd, staff research engineer at Tenable.

Celebrity impersonations, particularly targeting older demographics, have become widespread.

These scams often originate on platforms like Facebook, tricking victims into a false sense of security, the report mentioned.

“A troubling trend emerging is one where scammers routinely target older individuals, especially those who are widowed or suffer from memory loss,” the report added.

According to researchers, requests for money from newfound connections should sound immediate alarm bells.

It’s crucial to scrutinise photographs and videos that deliberately conceal background details, hindering online verification, they advised.

“Awareness and vigilance are our best defences against these heartless manipulations, ensuring that love seekers don’t fall victim to the tangled web of AI-enhanced deception,” said Boyd.


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