Alarming Cyber Scam Shocks Even the Most Vigilant Individuals

( – On Jan. 7, Arizona mom Jennifer DeStefano shared her experience about how a cyber kidnapping scam led her to fear for her 15-year-old daughter during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

According to DeStefano, an unknown number call came through with a voice that sounded as though it was her daughter as she was driving up to her other daughter’s dance studio. She said her daughter told her, “These bad men have me,” while crying and sobbing. A man’s voice came on the line and said, “We have her.” The man threatened to kill her daughter if she told anyone, and he demanded a ransom of $1 million. DeStefano said, “he wanted to physically” kidnap her, too. With the help of other adults, the family was able to locate her daughter within four minutes and confirm she was “resting safely in bed,” while the man continued to attempt to make the arrangements.

DeStefano said the scam used her daughter’s voice, adding it was an interactive conversation and “the way she would talk to me.”

She urged lawmakers to take action to address the threats of AI as she later learned that the scams are common. She said the scam is “every parent’s worst nightmare.” If “left uncontrolled, unregulated and unprotected,” she said the threat from AI is a danger to reality and truth. She added that she is concerned how this scam could lead to “human trafficking and abduction of children.”

Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff scheduled the hearing as a way to “investigate and understand the nature of the threats” that are occurring due to “the abuse of the use of artificial intelligence.” Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer science professor and director of the MIT Center for Deployable Machine Learning Aleksander Madry and other experts also addressed the Senate panel. Ossoff said areas where new legislation could be needed, and ways law enforcement can better protect people from the threats of AI have been identified.

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