AN AI expert has issued a warning over AI romance scams that can leave victims embarrassed and out of pocket.
Richard De Vere, the Head of Social Engineering at tech solutions firm Ultima, exclusively spoke to The U.S. Sun about the concerning bot scam.
Romance scams have been around for a while and usually involve a human scammer catfishing you and pretending to be in love.
Once, a victim is hooked, the scammer soon starts asking for money.
Artificial intelligence is said to be making the problem worse as it makes criminals even more convincing.
De Vere explained: “In the US alone, the ‘traditional’ romance scam industry is worth over a billion dollars a year, and about 24,000 people fall victim to romance scams each year.
“Scammers using AI have the potential to automate a lot of their mundane work, thereby increasing the time that they can focus on exploiting vulnerabilities in their targets.
“AIs are quite happy to talk about the weather, learn about your family and tell you about how their day went.
“The new generation of AIs are almost indistinguishable from humans, at least when communicating by email and messaging applications.”
De Vere thinks some AI chatbots are able to write better and more convincing messages than humans and gave ChatGPT as an example.
ChatGPT is a chatbot that’s been causing concern recently for its ability to write impressive and intelligent chunks of text.
De Vere said: “ChatGPT is the first of a kind. It’s a tool which anyone with moderate computer skills can use to build a kind of virtual online assistant which has a lot of human characteristics.
“Currently, scammers can use ChatGPT to strike up a conversation with new targets. It opens another avenue for less-skilled criminals to increase their volume of activity.
“When the target is sufficiently warmed up and has developed feelings for the AI, then a real person can take control and change the topic to sending money.”
De Vere warned that AI can learn to see romance scams as a game.
He said making mistakes will only make it better in the long run as it learns how to win the hearts of victims and their money.
You should always be cautious of any strangers you meet on the internet.
This includes new friends on social media as well as anyone you meet on a dating site.
As a general rule, dating site users are advised to never send over money to someone they have just met.
De Vere added: “It is natural to feel guilty or embarrassed if you fall victim to a scam online, and particularly if it is at the hands of AI – but you shouldn’t take it personally.
“Scammers play a numbers game and it can happen to the very best of us – it just happens that this time your number came up.
“But falling for one romance scam, unfortunately, means you are more likely to fall for another.
“Next time you strike up a relationship online, get advice from friends and loved ones.
“Show them who you are talking to and get their input. Someone with a clear head might be able to spot some obvious red flags that you might miss.”