Cybersecurity

Visa identifies role of AI in payment threat landscape

Company researchers found that adversaries are increasingly targeting victims using sophisticated techniques and technologies.
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Francis Scialabba

· less than 3 min read

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Scam alert—and watch out for AI.

That’s what Visa Payment Fraud Detection (PFD) warned in its latest Biannual Threats Report. The newest edition, released March 20, reviewed the payment threat landscape from June to December 2023 and the role of emerging technology in consumer-targeted scams.

Paul Fabara, Visa’s chief risk and client services officer, said in a statement accompanying the report that use of new technologies has made the scam business even more dangerous.

“With the use of Generative AI and other emerging technologies, scams are more convincing than ever, leading to unprecedented losses for consumers,” Fabara said.

AI danger. Company researchers found that adversaries are increasingly targeting victims using sophisticated techniques and technologies, including generative AI.

“In the last seven-month period, threat actors created various malicious versions of AI chat bot programs, including some examples known as ‘WormGPT’ and ‘FraudGPT,’” according to the report. “These fraudulent AI programs were designed without any security controls and are capable of generating responses to users’ prompts free of grammatical or spelling errors and can mimic human language patterns based on the inputs it receives from users.”

Bull’s-eye. Visa identified a number of popular scams that are impacting consumer payment fraud. Fake charities related to international conflict are used to fraudulently solicit donations and for phishing schemes; inheritance scams use the promise of a big payout to obtain sensitive personal information, and demand fees.

So-called “pig butchering,” or romance scams, are when “threat actors use social media, dating websites and various apps to lure victims into online relationships and subsequently convince victims to invest in specified cryptocurrency trading platforms.”

Individual consumers are the main targets of these scams, and Visa PFD’s research indicates that while total scams are down, the total money lost has increased, indicating the attacks are more successful.

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From cybersecurity and big data to cloud computing, IT Brew covers the latest trends shaping business tech in our 4x weekly newsletter, virtual events with industry experts, and digital guides.