Are AI scams a threat to your business?

Our fraud specialist cuts through the hype to predict how AI could impact businesses.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, recent research produced by Stop Scams UK and PwC asserted that “AI will drive an increase in the volume and sophistication of fraud and scams”. But, equally, it also pointed out it will be used in its detection.

Generative AI is in the fast lane, enabling computers to interpret language and images to produce text, music, audio, and videos. AI-generated ‘deepfakes’ are appearing in the form of videos or audio recordings impersonating a real person, and while they’re often created for legitimate reasons, they’re also creeping into fraudulent activity and disinformation.

Deepfake: what it could mean for businesses

It’s been hard to miss the media attention around deepfake scams, with several high-profile people being impersonated.

There’s football icon David Beckham miraculously speaking nine languages; money saving guru Martin Lewis promoting a fake investment; and audio of a replica of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s voice talking negatively about Remembrance Weekend.

Deepfake AI is predicted to grow insidiously, making it something important for businesses to guard against in the future. Sam Hedlund, Project Manager Apprentice in our Fraud Prevention Centre, points to a ‘bogus boss’ scam carried out in 2019 – one of Britain’s first deepfake frauds – when an energy executive was persuaded to hand over £200,000 after listening to a fake audio clip of their boss’s voice.

As this software becomes more accessible and sophisticated, more fraudsters will attempt scams of this nature, Sam warns. “As AI gets smarter, this could potentially be something fraudsters use to evolve their scams.”

AI chatbots can help fraudsters create phishing emails

Some threat actors will already be using AI chatbots such as ChatGPT to support their activity, he adds. “A fraudster could quite easily use AI to help them create a well worded and formatted phishing email.” From here, he says “it would be a small step to use these chatbots to create convincing scripts for a variety of scams”.

However, for now, criminals are still seeing success from traditional techniques such as drafting a fraudulent email claiming to be from an existing supplier asking for bank details to be updated; they don’t necessarily need to invest in new tech, although he predicts this will change: “We anticipate that more fraudsters will resort to using AI technology to target businesses and that education remains key to tackling business fraud.

"Fighting fraud is a constant cycle of education and reinforcement of the messages. It’s important to be continually updating your knowledge to not only include current fraud threats, but emerging trends too and plan for them because it’s not if, but when, a fraud will happen.”

Reassuringly, Sam says: “AI-detecting software is continuously being developed to counter these threats and help to identify fraudulent activity.”

Top tips to detect AI-powered deepfakes

  • Check the source of suspicious content, so its origin, file name, size
  • Be alert to a robotic tone or that lips are in sync with what the figure on the screen is saying
  • For images, faces may look distorted or feature blurred edges
  • Look beyond social media if you suspect misinformation
  • Use your common sense – as with any fraud, be wary of time-pressured requests or unusual behaviour


Read more insights and watch our webinars for further advice on how to avoid falling victim to fraud.

This material is published by NatWest Group plc (“NatWest Group”), for information purposes only and should not be regarded as providing any specific advice. Recipients should make their own independent evaluation of this information and no action should be taken, solely relying on it. This material should not be reproduced or disclosed without our consent. It is not intended for distribution in any jurisdiction in which this would be prohibited. Whilst this information is believed to be reliable, it has not been independently verified by NatWest Group and NatWest Group makes no representation or warranty (express or implied) of any kind, as regards the accuracy or completeness of this information, nor does it accept any responsibility or liability for any loss or damage arising in any way from any use made of or reliance placed on, this information. Unless otherwise stated, any views, forecasts, or estimates are solely those of NatWest Group, as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Copyright © NatWest Group. All rights reserved.

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