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Win $25,000 with a Clever Idea to Fight Voice-Cloning Scams, Says FTC


January 04, 2024

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Win $25,000 with a Clever Idea to Fight Voice-Cloning Scams, Says FTC

The US Federal Trade Commission is turning to the general public to ask for good ideas to combat voice-cloning crime, and it’s offering $25,000 to the best scam-buster.

Threat actors are increasingly turning to scams using technology that can clone people’s voices thanks to improvements in text-to-speech AI engines. Reports show that tens of millions of US citizens lose money to phone scams every year.

A notable example of how the trick works is this incident from 2019 when scammers defrauded an energy firm out of $243,000 by impersonating a boss over the phone. In cybersecurity, this is also known as a “vishing” attack – a portmanteau of the terms “voice” and “phishing.”

While voice cloning offers massive benefits for people who have lost their voices due to accident or illness, it also poses significant risk, according to the FTC.

“Families and small businesses can be targeted with fraudulent extortion scams; creative professionals, such as voice artists, can have their voices appropriated in ways that threaten their livelihoods and deceive the public,” the agency notes.

Because voice cloning technology is becoming increasing sophisticated due to improving text-to-speech AI, the public is facing an uphill battle against scammers.

The FTC is now enrolling the general population to find ways to combat the voice scam pandemic.

The Voice Cloning Challenge is described as “an exploratory challenge to encourage the development of multidisciplinary approaches—from products to policies to procedures—aimed at protecting consumers from AI-enabled voice cloning harms, such as fraud and the broader misuse of biometric data and creative content.”

“The goal of the Challenge is to foster breakthrough ideas on preventing, monitoring, and evaluating malicious voice cloning,” according to the commission.

Submissions must include:

·      An Abstract—an overview / summary of your Submission; no more than one page;

·      A Detailed Explanation—a detailed written description of your Submission that enables Judges to evaluate how it meets the assessment criteria set out in the Challenge Rules, no more than ten pages;

·      Optional: A Video describing and/or demonstrating how your Submission would function.

The scope and judging criteria are detailed in the FTC’s announcement.

The submission itself must not contain information revealing your identity (name, address, employment information, or other identifying details), yet participants may include their own voice or image if they decide to proceed with an actual proof of concept (i.e. video).

Furthermore, any voices cloned as part of the challenge must be used only with the consent of the person whose voice has been cloned, according to the rules.

The best idea will be awarded $25,000 and the overall runner-up will receive $4,000. Up to three honorable mentions will receive $2,000 each. For participants that are businesses or organizations of ten or more people, one winner will receive a recognition award (no cash prize).

Bitdefender recently introduced Scamio, a free scam detector and prevention service for anyone with a Bitdefender account.

Got a phishing email, suspicious message, or fake ad? Simply access https://scamio.bitdefender.com/chat and describe the details to our clever chatbot. You can also share with Scamio exactly what you want to check, like a screenshot, PDF, QR code, or link. Scamio lets you know in seconds if it’s a scam. So instead of interacting with the scam yourself, simply feed it to Scamio and it will advise you on your next course of action.




Filip has 15 years of experience in technology journalism. In recent years, he has turned his focus to cybersecurity in his role as Information Security Analyst at Bitdefender.

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