Everyone knows to be on the lookout for phony emails – especially at work. Scammers can easily make messages that appear to come from anywhere – from your boss’s account to the office printer. But what about voicemail? New voice-mimicking software is now being used by scammers to create convincing voicemail messages.
How the Scam Works
You get a voicemail from your boss. They are instructing you to wire thousands of dollars to a vendor for a rush project. The request is out of the blue. But it’s the boss’s orders, so you make the transfer.
A few hours later, you see your boss and confirm that you sent the payment. But there’s one big problem; your manager has no idea what you are talking about! It turns out that the message was a fake. Scammers used new technology to mimic your boss’s voice and create the recording. This “voice cloning” technology has recently advanced to the place where anyone with the right software can clone a voice from a very small audio sample.
Businesses may be the first places to see this con, but it likely won’t stop there. The technology could also be used for emergency scams, which prey on people’s willingness to send money to a friend or relative in need. Also, with the US now in the midst of the 2020 election season, scammers could use the technology to mimic candidates’ voices and drum up “donations.”
How to Avoid a Business Compromise Scam:
- Secure accounts: Set up multifactor authentication for email logins and other changes in email settings. Be sure to verify changes in information about customers, employees, or vendors.
- Train staff: Create a secure culture at your office by training employees on internet security. Make it a policy to confirm all change and payment requests before making a transfer. Don’t rely on email or voicemail.
For more information
In January, the Federal Trade Commission held a workshop on voice cloning. See notes and video from the event on FTC.org or check out this report of the highlights. Also, read BBB’s report on Business Email Compromise scams for more tips on avoiding scams at work.
If you’ve been the victim of a scam, please report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help expose scammers’ tactics and prevent others from having a similar experience.