If a scammer says they have a photo of you in a compromising position, it’s a new AI scam

Photo (c) Golibtolibov - Getty Images

The FBI says scammers are merging the victim's picture with a pornagraphic image

The FBI has issued a warning to active social media users that scammers could target them with an AI-based extortion scheme – one that frankly is a little over-the-top.

The Bureau has received reports from victims of the scam who say they were presented with a deep fake photo of themselves that had been combined with a pornographic image. In short, their face was merged into the photo of an adult film star doing what they do.

The FBI said the scammers are targeting both children and adults, telling them they will distribute the photos online unless the victim pays. In most cases, the FBI says the scammers easily get the photographs from social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

To protect yourself, the FBI says you should check your social media privacy settings and block access to your photographs, especially your profile picture.

How to protect yourself

Here are some other ways the FBI says you can protect yourself and your children:

  • Monitor children’s online activity and discuss risks associated with sharing personal content.

  • Use discretion when posting images, videos, and personal content online, particularly those that include children or their information.

  • Run frequent online searches of you and your children’s information (e.g., full name, address, phone number, etc.) to help identify the exposure and spread of personal information on the internet.

  • Apply privacy settings on social media accounts—including setting profiles and your friends lists as private—to limit the public exposure of your photos, videos, and other personal information.

  • Exercise caution when accepting friend requests, communicating, engaging in video conversations, or sending images to individuals you do not know personally. Be especially wary of individuals who immediately ask or pressure you to provide them. Those items could be screen-captured, recorded, manipulated, shared without your knowledge or consent, and used to exploit you or someone you know.

  • Do not provide any unknown or unfamiliar individuals with money or other items of value. Complying with malicious actors does not guarantee your sensitive photos or content will not be shared.

  • Use discretion when interacting with known individuals online who appear to be acting outside their normal pattern of behavior. Hacked social media accounts can easily be manipulated by malicious actors to gain trust from friends or contacts to further criminal schemes or activity.

  • Secure social media and other online accounts using complex passwords or passphrases and multi-factor authentication.

  • Research the privacy, data sharing, and data retention policies of social media platforms, apps, and websites before uploading and sharing images, videos, or other personal content.

The scam appears to be a case where AI has made a scam even more dangerous. In December, we reported that minor children are being targeted by scammers posing as a peer, asking that they text a nude picture of themselves – which is a felony.

If the victim complies, the scammer demands money and threatens to post the pictures online. Now with AI, they can create a fake incriminating photo.

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