You’ve probably received a late night text or email from a loved one asking you to send some money and they’d explain later. It’s a pretty common scam for a compromised email account and most of us know not to even respond, but what if you got a video call from them asking for the same thing?
Preface here, Google’s project just made me think of this, I’m not saying Google’s somehow the start of what will be.
Google recently unveiled project Starline. This takes a highly detailed photo and map of you, sends the data to the receiving side, and then it’s like you’re both in the same room as much less data is being transmitted and it’s realistically fast.
What the receiver is seeing is essentially a wireframe with your photo wrapped around it, and evidently it’s good enough to fool most people into thinking it’s someone on the other side of a glass.
Right now it’s pretty basic – sit, scan, send, render. You can read about how it works here. However, there’s no reason to think the scam I’m going to detail will be limited to Starline, I’m just using it for reference because this is the first thing I thought of for stealing someone’s image and using it for dastardly deeds.
You could do the same with a face swap filter on Zoom currently, but with Starline you’ve got an amazing quality image that’s being manipulated beyond what most people would expect. What if you captured that image and used it for nefarious purposes somehow?
So your loved one calls on on Zoom, Starline, Meet, Teams. It looks like them, maybe the sound isn’t quite right but it’s the crappy phone/laptop/bar/echo chamber they’re calling you from. They seem a little distraught and keep looking around and say they need $280, will repay in the morning and you’re going to be surprised.
I mean they’re right there, it’s them, something seems a little off but it’s them you’re seeing… but it’s not. It’s a highly detailed rendering layered over a scammer’s body, a series of compromised email and Venmo accounts, a crappy microphone so you don’t wonder why the voice doesn’t sound right, and the trust of looking someone in the eye, a highly detailed re-creation of that eye and person you care about.
The scam’s the same – compromise and pretend to be someone you’re not. They’re probably doing it on the same email account they compromised so now they look like and have the email account of your friend.
Anyway, it’s coming. May be a few weeks but you can bet your butts there will be realistic copies of your loved ones, boss, arch rival calling you at some point in the near future asking for some task, trinket, or money.
How’d they get the highly detailed photorealistic face in the first place? Does your friend do something strange like take… selfies? Do they have a YouTube channel where they might get the voice? Think that could get them the data they need?
Yup. It’s coming. Tell your friends if they ever need help they need some sort of codeword.
What can you do about it? Send me money. No, just don’t send anyone money. Make it clear to friends or your boss that no monetary transactions get made without some sort of password, face to face, challenge question, etc.