BBC Presenter’s Image Featured in Advert After Firm Fooled by AI-Generated Voice


A peculiar voice caught their attention—it sounded familiar, but as time passed, it began to drift inconsistently.

Liz Bonnin, a renowned science presenter known for her Irish accent on the BBC, found herself unexpectedly featured in online advertisements for insect repellent spray. The twist? She had never agreed to endorse such a product.

The source of this confusion? An AI-generated voice message supposedly granting permission for the ad campaign, but with an accent that seemed to morph throughout the recording.

Bonnin’s management team uncovered the deception after spotting her image in the unauthorized ads. While the attempt was aimed at an insect repellent spray, Bonnin expressed relief that it wasn’t something more unpleasant.

Howard Carter, CEO of Incognito, the company behind the scheme, claimed to have received convincing voice messages from someone he believed to be Bonnin. Despite initial suspicions about the legitimacy of the Facebook profile reaching out to him, Carter was persuaded by a series of messages that seemingly confirmed Bonnin’s involvement.

The impersonator provided Carter with contact information, including details supposedly from the Wildlife Trusts, a charity with which Bonnin is associated. Negotiations proceeded through various digital channels, and a contract, allegedly signed by Bonnin, sealed the deal.

However, further attempts to communicate with Bonnin went unanswered, and the campaign launched without her consent. Only after the fact did Carter realize he had been deceived.

Bonnin lamented the violation of her likeness and emphasized the importance of vigilance in such situations. She urged caution when approached outside of professional channels.

AI experts analyzed the voice note and confirmed its likely artificial origin, noting inconsistencies in accent and speech patterns. Bonnin viewed the incident as a cautionary tale, highlighting the need for better regulation of AI technologies.

Incognito, acknowledging the deception, reported the incident to authorities and apologized for any harm caused. The BBC declined to comment, and the Wildlife Trusts refrained from issuing a statement.