AI helps scammers pretend to be someone you know. Be careful!

AI helps scammers pretend to be someone you know. Be careful!

Scammers have become more sophisticated and aggressive with the help of Artificial Intelligence. Be alert to the tools they use to extort data and money from users.

Meeting people on social networks, forums and dating apps has become commonplace in our lives. By participating in thematic groups, you can ask for help in resolving your issues, find partners in sports or, for example, in playing board games. And dating apps allow many people to find their match. Internet has become an important tool for our socialization, and we sometimes do not consider the risks associated with communicating online. Meanwhile, the development of technology, and above all Artificial Intelligence, creates more opportunities for those who pursue criminal goals.

In its reportEuropol, the EU's law enforcement agency, Europol emphasizes that cybercrime particularly affects EU member states, most of which have well-developed online payment systems. Fraudsters can infiltrate dating apps where they pose as people looking for a partner. Another case of extortion  appeals for financial assistance on social networks for supposedly people in the war zone. Scammers try to get money from gullible users, for example, by posing as a person who is desperately trying to get out of a dangerous region. Сriminals' interest extends beyond money - "data in general is a key target for cybercriminals" who can use it for illicit ends.

Europol analyzed trends in recent months and found that easier access to artificial intelligence has increased the effectiveness of online scammers. "Criminals are typically quick to exploit new technologies and were fast seen coming up with concrete criminal exploitations, providing first practical examples mere weeks after the public release of ChatGPT," Europol officials state. Previously, scammers had to manually search for their potential victims on the Internet. Now artificial intelligence is helping them literally automate this process, allowing them to to attack thousands of victims simultaneously. They can also send messages in multiple languages and tailored to different recipient profiles.  

Сybercriminals have an appetite not only for the personal funds of citizens, but also for huge sums belonging to large companies and banks. Company funds can be stolen through criminal transactions dubbed "CEO fraud". Attackers obtain contact information for company employees from open sources, hack executives' emails and impersonate them, initiating transactions that lead to the theft of large sums. Fraudsters may also pose as IT employees or service providers.

Cybercriminals use a variety of tools and techniques, including remote hacking of user devices, theft through online payment systems and gaming platforms, and laundering of traditional and virtual currencies. They can even create networks of hacked devices of different users (called botnets - short for "robot network"), distributing malware through them without the knowledge of their owners.

Modern mobile payment systems are available to everyone, including criminals. In Poland, the online interbank mobile payment system BLIK is very popular due to the ease and speed of money transfers, which has given rise to the so-called "BLIK Fraud". According to Polish police, criminals first operate through social networks, hacking into user accounts, stealing passwords and login data. Having gained access to the account, they analyze the writing style and identify relatives and friends, and then contact them and ask for instant help, forwarded through the BLIK system. The requests they make are quite ordinary, and they are easy to believe: "I don't have enough money to pay for the hotel" or "I haven't received my salary yet, can I borrow it from you?" the money ends up in the criminals' accounts. That's why it's important to double-check such messages, in particular by calling your contacts back and checking to see if they are asking for help.