Colorado expert warns AI is making familiar holiday scams even more effective

Dr. Dennis Natali at Pikes Peak State College shares his "12 frauds of Christmas" consumers should know about
Local expert warns AI is making familiar holiday scams even more effective
Posted at 10:43 AM, Nov 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-28 12:43:29-05

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — It’s important to be on the lookout for scams once again this holiday season, but we’re learning this time around fraudsters are using artificial intelligence to make their schemes even more effective.

Unfortunately, fraudsters and scammers don’t take the holidays off. In fact, they’ve been known to ramp up their efforts.

At Pikes Peak State College Rampart Campus, students are learning all about artificial intelligence and it turns out AI is only making these frauds and scams more difficult to spot.

”About every year I get stories where a student loses everything. These scammers will consider it a good day,” Pikes Peak State College professor Dr. Dennis Natali said. “The scammer’s mentality is shame on you for not being smarter than me with this AI tech.”

AI has changed everything, Dr. Natali said.

It inspired him to put together this list that he calls the 12 Frauds of Christmas:

Dr. Natali said consumers should be aware of each of these schemes because they’re all being enhanced in some way with the assistance of AI technology.

”I don’t see anything brand new. A lot of these are pretty historic, but I’ve noticed that AI is making it indistinguishable from the real thing,” Dr. Natali said. “Especially with look-alike websites, with one click of a mouse and a keystroke, I can copy your entire website completely and with new AI tools I can copy every single web page.”

There’s one item on his list he wants parents to pay special attention to.

”What really stood out to me is the idea of the malicious holiday apps because they are going after kids on this,” Dr. Natali saud. “Get me into your home network and I own every tablet, every phone, everything connected to your network because your kid’s tablet is connected and they clicked on an app that looked really cool and they downloaded it.”

Jacquelyn Gators-Jordan oversees the work of Dr. Natali at Pikes Peak State College. She believes both students and their families benefit from these kinds of lectures.

”I think an informed community is a smart community and the more we talk about the things that are challenging or not great we can help people hopefully not fall into those traps,” Gators-Jordan said.

Take a good look at the list, Dr. Natali said, and learn to be our own best defense because these attacks aren’t going anywhere and they are rarely stopped.

”They are going to hit thousands a day and all they’re looking for is one or two,” Dr. Natali said.

Here are some resources to help you spot and deal with some of the scams on Dr. Natali’s list:

Federal Trade Commission: How to Avoid Imposter Scams
AARP: Boxer Puppy Scheme
KOAA: Fraudsters use AI tools to create phony job posts
KOAA: Scams targeting grandparents and seniors
KOAA: FTC warns military families about payment app schemes

Expert warns AI is making holiday scams harder to detect