Sunshine Coast Mayor Impersonated by Scammers Utilizing Artificial Intelligence: Cybercrime Experts Alert Public of Video Call Tactics


“Authorities Investigate AI-Driven Scam Impersonating Sunshine Coast Mayor in Video Calls”

A concerning cybercrime tactic has emerged, with perpetrators utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) to impersonate individuals during live video calls, prompting investigations by authorities.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Rosanna Natoli reported a distressing incident to Queensland Police and the Australian Cyber Security Centre after discovering her image had been exploited in a fake Skype call.

The scam, which involved the impersonation of Mayor Natoli, was brought to her attention by a concerned friend who received a suspicious call purportedly from her. The caller looked like Natoli but did not sound like her, raising alarm bells about the potential escalation of the scam.

Mayor Natoli revealed that scammers had been using her name and image on Facebook for some time, creating fake accounts that closely resembled her genuine ones. These fraudulent profiles, some with over 1,000 followers, engaged in interactions with unsuspecting victims, gradually building trust before soliciting sensitive information such as bank account details.

According to Queensland Police Acting Superintendent Chris Toohey, cybercrimes involving AI have seen exponential growth in recent years. He emphasized the deceptive nature of these scams, which exploit technology to gain victims’ trust through a grooming process of manipulation and coercion.

Dr. Declan Humphreys, a cybercrime expert from the University of the Sunshine Coast, highlighted the difficulty in identifying AI-altered content, particularly with live facial alteration technology. This advanced technology allows scammers to manipulate faces in real-time, making it challenging for victims to discern between genuine and fake content.

The potential for AI-driven scams is vast, with Dr. Humphreys noting their prevalence in romance scams and other fraudulent activities. Celebrities, politicians, and individuals with significant online presence are prime targets due to the abundance of publicly available data about them.

Despite efforts by authorities to investigate these crimes, tracing perpetrators remains challenging, as they can operate remotely from anywhere in the world. However, individuals encountering suspicious accounts are urged to report them immediately to law enforcement and refrain from sharing sensitive information.

As scams become increasingly sophisticated, Dr. Humphreys advised individuals to exercise caution and take time to verify the authenticity of communications. Taking a moment to step back and consult with others can help prevent falling victim to these deceptive tactics, ultimately safeguarding against financial and personal harm.