Warnings and advice as AI impostor scams skyrocket nationwide

While some of us are still trying to avoid cell phone scams, phishing, and emails from Nigerian princes offering money, the expansion of AI is creating a new type of fraud called AI Impostor scams and experts say it's time for a wake-up call.

Adam Wandt, associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, tells Fox 5, "It's time that as Americans, we realize that what we see and hear isn't always accurate or correct. It's really easy to make up fake videos and audios these days, and scammers all over the world are using them to influence us in different ways."

Last year, AI Impostor scams reportedly became the number one form of fraud, with over 850,000 cases swindling victims out of some $2.7 billion. One of the most common scenarios is receiving a call from someone close to us in distress.

Jennifer Distefano, a mother, testified before Congress last year about the horror of receiving a frantic call from her daughter, claiming she'd been kidnapped, and her abductors were demanding money. However, it turned out to be a scam.

Jennifer Distefano said, "It was my daughter's voice and cries. I will never be able to shake that voice and the desperate cries for help out of my mind."

Law enforcement in New York City tell FOX 5 that AI impostor scams are on the rise there too. Experts suggest using a safe word, phrase, or piece of information that AI can't come up with to protect ourselves.

"If you ask very specific questions like, 'Hey, where did we meet?' or 'What did we have for dinner last night?'" Wandt says, "The scammer probably wouldn't be able to respond. So having some sort of quick challenge and response is good for everybody."