How to protect yourself from deepfake scams

Synthetic Media, also known as "deepfakes," are distorting the reality we live in. They are hyperrealistic video and audio recordings created by Artificial Intelligence technology. 

Veritone Inc. in Irvine, is mastering synthetic voices, making them sound just like those of real people. 

"We're an enterprise company, we license and sell different AI-based solutions to hundreds of different companies all across the world," said Ryan Steelberg, Veritone's CEO and President.

One of Veritone’s new projects involves the creation of a digital twin of the late Vin Scully. "Now we can recreate Mr. Scully’s voice, for the purposes that his estate wants to use," said Steelberg. One possibility is having Dodgers fans enjoy a game while listening to a play-by-play done with Scully’s voice clone. 

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It's amazing technology, no doubt, but in the wrong hands, extremely dangerous.

"These are hackers trying to use any tool at their disposal to confuse you and potentially induce you to do something that's inappropriate," said Steelberg.

Scammers can copy your voice from a simple phone call, or study you from social media posts. "People can use that data and manipulate and harvest it, and potentially create ‘deepfakes,’" said Steelberg. 

One popular "deepfake" on TikTok involves the likeness of Tom Cruise. Surprisingly, Cruise doesn’t have a problem with it. "He absolutely could demand the content be taken out, but he's made a decision that he thinks it’s good for his brand," said Steelberg.

But you wouldn’t love it so much if your image and your voice were used to spread misinformation or for scams. Unfortunately, fraudulent impersonation, using "deepfakes" is here to stay. 

To avoid becoming a victim, you must question everything. "It's like the drug trade, there's so much money in it, that there's a larger and larger audience of bad actors doing it," Steelberg said. 

If someone is asking you for money, consider it a red flag. With this new technology you can’t believe what you see or what you hear. It’s never been more important to be diligent, verify the source and use your common sense.