Bounty Hunters and AI Extortion Scams in Montana
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - State Auditor and Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Troy Downing appeared on the KGVO Talk Back show on Tuesday with updates on bills passed in the recent legislative session, as well as troubling new innovations in the world of fraud and scams.
Downing said he helped craft a bill that would bring better controls on what are called ‘bounty hunters’, or bail bondsmen who come into Montana to take offenders from other jurisdictions into custody.
Downing Sponsored a Bill to Rein in 'Bounty Hunters' in Montana
“We drew a line in the sand and said you can't be a felon,” began Commissioner Downing. They have to be at least 21 years old, you have to notify law enforcement and you couldn't simply be ‘uncomfortable’ with a suspect, you had to have probable cause for effecting an arrest. We thought these were some good common sense changes to that industry.”
Downing introduced a troubling new innovation in computer fraud, that of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the use of the simulated voice of a loved one purportedly in crisis who needs cash immediately.
Downing Wanted to Warn Montanans about a New AI-Powered Scam
“Some text message or email was sent to a grandparent purporting to be a grandchild that's in some kind of trouble, like they were vacationing in Mexico and got arrested for something and they need money,” he said. “But now with the power of artificial intelligence, these scammers can take a small sample of somebody's voice from Tik Tok or Instagram or some kind of online video that that these kids do, and based on that completely replicate their voice and have phone calls with the grandparents saying that they've gotten into some kind of trouble and need money wired right away.”
Downing described how detailed and convincing such scams can sound to a concerned relative.
“They can copy the accents and the speech patterns,” he said. “Now, when you put that together with some of these natural language engines like Chat GPT that can give you real, reasonable human responses to questions that come in the voice of a family member, it's really an interesting problem to figure out how we combat this.”
Downing had a Suggestion to Help you Keep from Being Scammed
Downing did have one powerful suggestion to keep from being taken advantage of.
“I would suggest if you get a panicked message from a grandkid or a child or somebody that says they're in trouble, then ask them something that AI can't figure out. Make sure that you know who you’re talking to before you start sending any kind of cash. Probably one of the easiest and fastest ways is to put them on hold for a second and call their actual phone number because that kid who they think is in jail in Mexico is actually in their dorm room in college.”
Downing suggests that anyone interested in more information call his office in Helena at 406-444-20-40, or visit here.