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‘Gone in 3 seconds’: all it takes for AI scams to steal your voice


Customers should look out for emerging scams that impersonate trusted sources, create a sense of urgency and prey on vulnerable victims, NAB says.

By Christine Chen 12 minute read

A three-second sound bite from a social media post or voicemail is all it takes for fraudsters using AI to craft a scam call impersonating a loved one, NAB warns.

Security manager Laura Hartley said rising cases overseas meant it was just a “matter of time” before AI voice impersonation played a key role in the 70 per cent of Australian scams that relied on impersonation.

“Criminals are targeting Aussies enjoying their break by using sophisticated technology to manipulate victims when and where they least suspect it,” she said.


“AI voice scams can be created with as little as three seconds of audio taken from a social media post, voicemail or video on a website.”

NAB said the scheme was a step up from the text-based “Hi Mum” scam that circulated in 2022 and involved a person receiving a text message from a “distressed” loved one demanding money. 

“Scammers create a sense of urgency to encourage you to act quickly. It could be a phone call from your ‘son’ or ‘daughter’ in distress and needing money,” she said.

She said other schemes involved gaining remote access to a target’s computer through a phone call or web chat. 

Scammers could then retrieve banking and other personal information and steal “significant amounts of money in minutes”.

“We anticipate criminals will continue to target Australian consumers and businesses with remote access scams in 2024. That’s because the losses often run into tens of thousands of dollars, compared to other scams where the criminals might net $500 or $1,000,” she said.

Ms Hartley also warned of term deposit scams that impersonated banks or other financial companies and promised “lucrative” returns.

“Investment scams are consistently among the top scams impacting our customers,” she said. “This version involves criminals impersonating banks or financial companies with fixed term deposits with impressive rates, glossy brochures, and professional follow up.”

She said one customer had almost lost $200,000 to a fraudulent “Citibank” term deposit offering a 6.8 per cent return, while another almost transferred $80,000 to a fraudulent investment firm that promised a rate of 12 per cent.

Phishing scams, involving scammers using emails or texts that purport to originate from a trusted sender, had also begun including QR codes that contained malicious links when scanned.

“QR phishing can appear as emails claiming a package hasn’t been delivered or that there’s a problem with your account and allows criminals to target thousands of people at once,” she said. “Criminals can also hide dodgy links in QR codes in places like parking payment stations, restaurant menus and signs for free public wi-fi.”

NAB also warned of romance and ticket scams where fraudsters played on victims’ emotions, such as the desire for a relationship or “fear of missing out” on a concert.

“We will always do what we can but it’s often very hard to recover money once it’s in a criminal’s account. That’s why we need to stop the crime before it happens,” Ms Hartley said.

NAB said its customers reported a monthly average of 1,500 scams in 2023. Its fraud team also received an average of almost 80,000 calls each month, up 25 per cent from a year ago.

In November, the banking industry announced a landmark Scam-Safe Accord, with credit unions, community-owned and commercial banks committing to a raft of anti-scam measures to safeguard customers. 

The government has also introduced initiatives including a National Anti-Scam Centre and investing $587 million into a 2023–30 Cyber Security Strategy.

Christine Chen

Christine Chen


Christine Chen is a graduate journalist at Accountants Daily and Accounting Times, the leading sources of news, insight, and educational content for professionals in the accounting sector.

Previously, Christine has written for City Hub, the South Sydney Herald and Honi Soit. She has also produced online content for LegalVision and completed internships at EY and Deloitte.

Christine has a commerce degree from the University of Western Australia and is studying a Juris Doctor degree at the University of Sydney. 

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