A voice imitation program was used in a massive theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The unusual case of robbery with artificial intelligence involved, would be one of the first made public, according to The Washington Post.
The director of an energy company in the United Kingdom, who believed he was talking on the phone with his boss, sent over $240,000 to a secret account in Hungary in March, according to the French insurance company Euler Hermes, quoted by the US publication.
The insurance company has not released the name of the energy company.
The director of the company told The Washington Post that the request to send money to that account was “rather strange”, but the voice was reproduced so well, looking authentic, that he had no choice but to comply with the requirement.
Voice synthesis programs can copy the rhythm and intonation of a person’s voice and can be used to create very compelling speeches.
They can also have positive aspects, for example, to help “humanize” automated telephone systems and help people with speech impairments to express themselves. But they are a growing threat to anything based on traditional communication, from transactions to discussions between lawmakers.
Together with the video recordings created with the help of artificial intelligence, voice synthesis programs are part of an alarming phenomenon known as “deepfake”, which has a great potential to erode trust in public institutions.
Such programs can be used in offenses, as described by The Washington Post.
“Offenders will use any kind of tools to enable them to achieve their goals as cheaply as possible,” said Andrew Grotto, from the Center for Cyber Policy at Stanford University and former director of cybersecurity at the White House during the Barack Obama administration.
“This technology would have sounded exotic ten years ago, but now it is accessible to any offender who has a lot of creativity,” he said.
Several developers are currently trying to create systems to detect such audio and video products, but technology is evolving rapidly.