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Scammers use artificial intelligence to impersonate Sunshine Coast mayor as experts warn of video call cybercrime tactic | #cybercrime | #computerhacker

Authorities are investigating a sophisticated new cybercrime tactic using artificial intelligence to impersonate people on live video calls.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Rosanna Natoli contacted Queensland Police and the Australian Cyber Security Centre after her image was used in a “distressing and concerning” incident.

“A friend of mine sent me a text saying, ‘this might sound strange, but did we just talk on Skype?’,” Ms Natoli said.

“And my response was, ‘no, we did not’ and I picked up the phone immediately.

“What this friend told me is that this looked like me but didn’t sound like me — that’s when we started to realise that this might be something that is going to progress further.”

Scammer sophistication

Cr Natoli said scammers had been using her name and image on Facebook for a long time.


Police are investigating an artificial intelligence scam using Rosanna Natoli’s image.(ABC Sunshine Coast: Bree Dwyer)

“The fake accounts look like my accounts because they are taking my posts and reposting,” she said.

One profile has more than 1,000 followers and has been building relationships with potential victims.

“Just recently, via Messenger, these people have been asking for bank account details,” she said.

“At first I just thought, ‘oh that’s a bit annoying’, but as it increased in its intensity and sophistication, that’s when we brought it to the attention of the experts.”

Fake Rosanna Natoli page

A fake profile using Rosanna Natoli’s name and photo has more than 1,000 followers.(Supplied)

Queensland Police Acting Superintendent Chris Toohey said crimes related to artificial intelligence had grown exponentially over the past couple of years.

“Cybercrime is an unfortunate consequence of us getting the benefits of making life easier with technology,” he said.

“It brings the fraudulent offenders into that realm, and they can operate well.

“It’s about the trickery and the coercion through that almost grooming process, where they’re starting that back and forth to gain the trust of people.”

Acting Superintendent Chris Toohey

Acting Superintendent Chris Toohey says crimes relating to AI are rising exponentially.(ABC Sunshine Coast: Bree Dwyer)

Very discerning eye needed to pick a fake 

Cybercrime expert Dr Declan Humphreys from University of the Sunshine Coast said live facial altering technology is highly convincing and hard to spot.

Dark silhouette of a person wearing a hoodie.

Experts say the potential for scams using AI is “just beginning”.(ABC News: Lisa Batty)

“The AI can recognise the scammer’s face; it then also has an overlay of the face that scammers are trying to impersonate,” Dr Humphreys said.

“Then it can manipulate that new face to match what the scammers are doing.


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