Coworking with Sift’s Jane Lee | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans

Coworking is a weekly segment where we spotlight Tech Brew readers who work with emerging technologies. Click here if you’d like a chance to be featured.

How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t work in tech?

I help make the internet a safer place. More specifically, I help businesses keep apps and websites free from online fraud by uncovering new methods and patterns of fraud and designing detection/enforcement systems to combat fraud and abuse at scale.

What’s the most compelling tech project you’ve worked on, and why?

A big part of my role at Sift is researching new and emerging types of fraud attacks and scams so we can inform the businesses we work with about how to protect proactively against new types of fraud and abuse. In 2021, I started looking into scams impacting dating apps and realized that there was an increase in scammers targeting this new type of scheme that tapped into the rise in crypto investing called pig butchering. I ended up going “undercover” to understand the mechanics of the scam and made myself the bait—or, rather, the “pig” up for the slaughter—to understand how fraudsters were wiping out the savings of victims they identified on the apps.

I wanted to go deeper into the scam because I was seeing it on dating apps myself and, from a professional perspective, we want to make sure that our customers are protected, since we have customers in both the dating app space and the crypto space. After going undercover on this, or working to identify new patterns or trends in fraud more generally, I take whatever my team and I learn to make sure our products and technology are effective. We also scour the deep and dark web just to understand what’s going on in the fraud networks—there’s always more to learn!

What technologies are you most optimistic about? Least? And why?

Interestingly, what I’m most optimistic about also happens to be what has been causing some heartburn. Generative AI is going to change the world and how we operate. It holds great potential in automating tasks, so that people can focus efforts on things that require more human brainpower. Unfortunately, it also makes the fight against fraud all the more challenging.

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Technology like ChatGPT has the potential to make scams and fraud appear much more convincing, rendering a lot of traditional methods of fighting fraud ineffective. Additionally, its accessibility to the general public makes it so that your everyday person can become an effective cybercriminal. We have already seen fraud become democratized in deep and dark web forums, where you no longer have to be a tech-savvy “hacker” to get involved.

So for us, the big technological undertaking is how to get ahead of fraud—we’re tracking patterns and user behavior with machine learning to combat online abuse and fraud, and both leveraging and adding to our global data network, so that we can help our customers identify and fight fraud before it happens. That’s an ever-evolving (and, so, ever-interesting) problem to solve.

What’s the best tech-related media you read/watch/listen to?

I really enjoy listening to The Daily, which covers important current events that often include tech-related issues. In fact, my intro to understanding generative AI, and ChatGPT specifically, came from this podcast. Another podcast that comes to mind is Reply All. There’s an old episode in which the reporter interviews a hacker, who reveals just how much of our personal information is out there.

What’s something about you we can’t guess from your LinkedIn profile?

This year, I started a charity, that’s also a Burning Man camp, dedicated to promoting period equity. We want to supply menstrual products to people at Burning Man, but we’re also looking into how we can get more involved in the community not just at the event, but after, too.

What do you think about when you’re not thinking about tech?

Human behavior and psychology. I’m a big advocate for mental health awareness, and through my own experience have realized that so much of what we do and how we interact is shaped by our past. It’s fascinating!

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