SMC logo UPDATE

My Amateur Sleuthing Is No Match For AI Spam

When I received the email from Mr. Martin Kofi Adu, I was — for a moment — overjoyed.

I am Mr. Martin Kofi Adu.I write to solicit for your assistance in a business proposal.Can you handle USD$87M for a contract (GNPC) investment fund,(FIXED) deposited? I’ll like to

know how you can be trusted to execute this project with me.[sic]

Certainly, I could be TRUSTED! Then my mind went to a dark place… taxes — $87M would certainly be capital gains. Perhaps it was not such a windfall?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been getting a steady string of text messages, friends (possibly) with messages like “Hi” or “How are you” or “is this Arlene’s number?” I haven’t responded.

Then…

“Hi, Steven

Let me know if you get this Message [sic]…… (a friend and co-worker’s name here)”

It was a New York number and a name I recognized, so I responded, “Yes.”

My friend (?) responded:

“Ok Steven, I’m on a conference call meeting at the moment and I need you to take care of something for me now.”

I gingerly responded: “What do you need?”

“Alright, I’m at a conference call meeting and I can’t talk at the moment but I need to provide a client with some apple gíft cards, Can you firm if you can get apple gíft cards from the nearby store to you now ? “ [sic]

I was now suspicious. The phrase “conference call meeting” seemed like broken English, and the gift card, well — um — nope.

I called my friend’s landline, and he confirmed he was not on a “conference call meeting,” nor did he need an Apple gift card picked up.

I am a sophisticated web user! I will not be scammed — for the moment.

Two things are going on in my digital world. One, the sheer volume of visible scams, spam, and criminal pings is growing daily — fake Facebook Messenger demands that my site is about to be deactivated if I don’t respond; emails “wish me well” and offer me exclusive access to a list of U.S.-based pediatricians.

The second is the individual attempted scams trigger a brief burst of adrenaline — a fight-or-flight urge that lasts a moment before I delete the digital intrusion.

After all, it’s my data, and I have the right to control who has it — don’t I?

I decided to take a look. Monitor.mozilla.org did a quick scan for free. “You have 573 exposures to fix,” Mozilla reported. For $108 a year, Mozilla will send out removal requests — and manage the process.

Today, spam is a low-tech game of whack-a-mole.

That’s changing fast. AI is the fast-moving player in spam, and my amateur sleuthing is no match for the super-slick spam that looks and sounds like real outreach.

The FCC has moved quickly, announcing the unanimous adoption of a ruling that makes robocalls made with AI-generated voices illegal under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

If only the spammers would obey the law.

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