a blog from CenturyLink

How scammers are using AI chatbots to catfish

by | Mar 14, 2023


Scammers are finding more and more creative ways to steal your personal information. The Federal Trade Commission claims that impostor scams were the most commonly reported scam in America in 2022. Over 36,000 people reported being conned by those pretending to be friends and family. And artificial intelligence, or AI chatbots, are making it even easier for hackers.

While chatbots are commonly used to help customers solve issues online, they can also be used with bad intentions. Learn more about how technology is making it easier for bad actors to mimic voices, convincing people their loved ones are in distress.

How scammers are using AI chatbots

What are AI chatbots?

You probably hear about AI all the time, but what are AI chatbots? And why are they so dangerous? AI chatbots are trained to have human-like conversations using a process known as natural language processing (NLP). With NLP, the chatbot is able to interpret human language, enabling the bot to operate on its own. Programmers teach chatbots how to understand the context of a person’s words, allowing them to answer questions and carry on a conversation.

Because AI chatbots are able to simulate human conversation, they have become a tool for hackers and scammers to trick innocent victims. Learn more about how to avoid online scams.

Types of AI chatbot scams

Many of us can spot scam messages because they look like they’ve been written by a robot. However, advances in AI technology are making it harder to identify scams. Hackers are improving their lure by using AI to eliminate spelling and grammatical mistakes and generate email threads, making their scams more believable. This makes many people more likely to fall for scams.

Let’s go over some common types of AI chatbot scams and how you can avoid them.

Woman laying on floor with laptop

Romance scams

Many people today turn to the internet during their search for romance. Dating sites and apps offer the exciting opportunity to meet people everywhere, from down the street to the other side of the world. But not everyone who sweeps you off your feet should be trusted. Scammers are using AI chatbots to write convincing messages to unsuspecting people searching for love.

This new version of a popular scam lets AI do all the mundane work, leaving bad actors with more time on their hands. Learn more about how to stay safe on dating apps.

Phishing scams

Phishing is the most prominent type of cyberattack used by criminals today. Cybercriminals cast a wide net with many different types of phishing attacks. Scammers use AI to make their phishing scams more successful by making them harder to detect. Make sure to read emails carefully, check for spelling and grammar errors, and look at the web address before clicking on any links. Always check the sender’s address and double-check with the sender if you have any doubts.

Scam warning on phone

Catfish scams

Imagine meeting someone online and forging a beautiful relationship—only to find out they were a robot the entire time. While this might have seemed unbelievable at one point in time, this is a harsh reality for some people today. Scammers are using AI chatbots to trick you into thinking they’re a real person. Once they’ve gained your trust, the chatbot will ask you for personal information or for money.

AI chatbots are even able to mimic voices by using audio samples to create a replica that can say anything they want. You might think you’re getting a call from your grandson when in reality, a chatbot has catfished you. However, this scam takes a lot of planning and can be avoided by confirming the message to a human in person.

Woman providing her voice to an AI chatbot

Can you protect yourself against chatbot scams?

With so many dangerous scams out there, how can you protect yourself and your personal information? The best way to stay safe is by using technology with caution and staying alert online. Learn what to do if you’ve been scammed online, so you can report cybercriminals to the proper authorities and have a chance at getting your money back. Make sure to visit the CenturyLink Discover blog for more information about technology and the future of AI.

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<a href="https://discover.centurylink.com/author/emilyr" target="_self">Emily Richey</a>

Emily Richey


Emily Richey is the Content Manager for the CenturyLink and Quantum Fiber blogs. A recent graduate of Pace University NYC, she's an avid reader and writer. She spends most of her free time in bookstores and cafes, seeking the perfect cup of coffee.