Deepfake AI scams, Tips for Home Security, and more
Last Updated on 6th October 2023
Read the script below
Natalie: Hello! Welcome to Safeguarding Soundbites, the bite-sized podcast that tells you what you need to know about this week’s online safeguarding news. I’m Natalie –
Danielle: – and I’m Danielle, and we’re here to share these news updates with you,
including deepfake ad scams, tips from security experts on keeping your home safe online, the mobile phone ban debate, a warning from the PSNI regarding phone scams, and our safeguarding success story of the week.
Natalie: As ever, we’re starting in the always changing world of social media.
Danielle: What’s been big in the news this week?
Natalie: Well, have you ever heard of MrBeast?
Natalie: MrBeast. He’s one of the most popular influencers across all social media platforms, but especially on YouTube as he has more subscribers than any other individual creator! Most of his videos involve him interacting with his followers in over-the-top tasks and challenges to win big prizes. For example, his most popular video to date was a recreation of Netflix’s hit show Squid Game! Obviously without all of the gruesome deaths and injuries –
Danielle: – I should hope so!
Natalie: – but the winner did receive $456,000! MrBeast also often meets random people on the street and has them do a challenge to win money or cars or trips. He’s made his name by being extravagant with his acts of generosity! So after an AI deepfake ad went live on TikTok where he appeared to be giving away the latest iPhone for only $2 to the first 10,000 people, the real MrBeast posted a video warning people that this ad was a fake.
Danielle: I understand why people would think it is real – giving away iPhones for $2 seems like something he would do, given the nature of his other videos.
Natalie: Yes, precisely. Unfortunately this was a scam that made use of a convincing deepfake created by AI, or ‘Artificial Intelligence’. These scams involving well-known influencers, actors, presenters, and other celebrities are starting to pop up all over social media platforms. Just this week, actor Tom Hanks posted on Instagram warning his fans that he had nothing to do with an AI advert that featured him promoting a dental plan. Another AI deepfake video appeared to show two BBC news presenters interviewing Elon Musk about an investment opportunity.
Danielle: We know that videos like this are becoming more and more convincing and common, especially when they are glimpsed while scrolling on social media. It can be difficult to pause and take a moment to discern whether what you are seeing is real or fake.
Natalie: And with AI becoming more and more accessible across the board, scammers are now making use of this technology to create scam advertisements that are so convincing they pass the moderation on social media platforms.
Danielle: So what can we do to make sure we don’t fall victim to these scam ads?
Natalie: Well, as we’ve already said, take a moment to PAUSE. Many scams will try to make you act quickly – for example, “The first 10,000 people will get this! Buy now!” – but it’s important not to rush into a decision, especially if it involves spending money.
Danielle: Another important point to remember is that if what the ad is offering is too good to be true, it probably is! Think about who is actually posting the advert. Is it a verified account? Is the username generic? Is the brand logo authentic, or does it look slightly off?
Natalie: Which goes for the video itself as well. A lot of AI generated imagery, including videos, will have some tell-tale signs that it is not authentic. The image may seem blurred or distorted, especially around the eyes and the mouth of the person speaking. Words may be misused, mispronounced, or misspelled. Audio might be garbled or choppy.
Danielle: While we hope that social media platforms are able to rise to the challenge of AI deepfakes, as they don’t seem to be going anywhere, it’s important that we take matters into our own hands when it comes to things like Scams, Deepfakes, and Artificial Intelligence.
Natalie: To stay sharp and top up your digital resilience, head to your Safer Schools NI app to find helpful resources on these topics and more.
Danielle: As the days start to get darker and colder, the temptation to book a last-minute holiday may inspire a quick weekend getaway to somewhere that is still sunny and warm.
Natalie: Oh, that would be a dream!
Danielle: Wouldn’t it? Well as nice as this would be, security experts ADT have sent out an urgent warning to UK residents who may be spending some time away from their homes in the next few months. According to the Office of National Statistics, home burglaries have gone up 4% in the last year – which may not sound like a lot, but is actually an additional 10,000 homes! A contributing factor to this increase has been identified as social media.
Natalie: Ah, I see. If someone posts that they are going away on holiday, that’s telling potential thieves that the house may be left unoccupied for that time.
Danielle: Yes, exactly. The concept of ‘oversharing’ on social media isn’t a new one, but it is a very important one to be aware of. To help educate people on the potential dangers, the ADT have released six tips for easy actions you can take.
Natalie: Ooh, I love a good online safety ‘top tip’! What are they?
Danielle: The first one is actually one I would never have thought of. It’s ‘Don’t give strangers an online tour of your house’.
Natalie: Oh dear, influencers beware!
Danielle: They’ve encouraged everyone to refrain from posting something that shows the layout of your home or any high-value items in specific rooms, as it could show robbers potential entrances and exits, or rooms to hit for targeted items. It’s also important not to post any new expensive gifts you receive as that could encourage interest!
Natalie: That makes sense. So no showing off your new PS5 in the front room or your kitted-out home office. What else did they advise?
Danielle: A bit more obviously, they advised people not to share plans like trips or family visits on social media until after you’ve returned home. This includes sharing geotags, as it could show the criminal exactly how long it would take you to get back to your home from your location. If it’s unavoidable, they’ve recommended investing in smart plugs that will turn your lights on and off to make it look like someone is in.
Natalie: That’s one way to use tech for good!
Danielle: It certainly is. It’s also crucial to know exactly who you are sharing with.
Natalie: Absolutely. Make sure your profile is set to ‘private’ to avoid strangers seeing your posts, and don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know!
Danielle: That’s the one. If everyone can see your posts, then anyone can see your posts, including people who may want to take advantage of you being out of the house. Now while the ADT have aimed their advice at homeowners, I’d like to add another piece of important advice!
Natalie: What is it?
Danielle: Consider the online behaviour of every member of your household – not just your own! Children and young people are growing up in a digital age where it is normal and encouraged to share things with others online. They may not have the digital resilience to consider the consequences of ‘oversharing’ or befriending strangers online.
Natalie: And don’t forget, this also applies to things like livestreaming or their BeReal – this kind of content is instant, in the moment and often in real time.
Explaining how someone could use their social media to break-in may seem like scaremongering, but it is a reality no one wants to face.
Danielle: That is why it is important to discuss practical steps for online safety with them. Use this example as a way to illustrate how much your whole house needs to work together to ensure the security of your home from people who may want to take advantage of any innocent posts.
Natalie: This is important for their cybersecurity, but also their offline security as well!
Danielle: If you need help starting the conversation, you can head to your Safer Schools NI app to find helpful resources.
Natalie: Well, Danielle, I know we’ve been talking about the proposed Mobile Phone Ban in schools for a while now –
Danielle: It’s turning into the Online Safety Bill at this rate!
Natalie: – but it looks like we’re going to have to talk about it for a little bit longer. All across the UK, government officials, school board members, parents, carers, and pupils have all been sharing their thoughts on what banning mobile phones in UK schools would look like. Most recently, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan announced that the government is planning to introduce the ban, as they believe mobile phones “pose a serious challenge in terms of distraction, disruptive behaviour, and bullying.”
Danielle: All good points.
Natalie: Yes, but a lot of others have said that the ban would be “unworkable” as they believe young people and their parents would be unwilling to leave phones at home for the day. A teachers’ union officer, has recently spoken against the bill, saying the ban will have little effect on the behavioural problems that school staff are currently facing. He believes this ban is just a way to divert attention from the “real issues” that teachers across the UK are facing. Paul Whiteman from the school leaders’ union agreed with this sentiment, saying that this ban might actually “cause more problems than it solves”.
Danielle: Oh dear. It doesn’t seem like there’s a clear answer on this, does there?
Natalie: Not really, no. As ever, our online safety experts will continue to monitor this situation, and we’ll report back to you with any significant updates or information.
Danielle: Perhaps we should do a special episode of Soundbites to round up everything we know about the mobile phone ban, including some of the thoughts from teachers, pupils, parents and carers that we’ve collected ourselves?
Natalie: That’s a great idea! I guess our listeners will just have to wait and…listen?
Danielle: Wait and listen. Sounds good!
Danielle: The children’s commissioner has warned that children and young people in Scotland are not being adequately protected from harm and discrimination. This concern has risen amid reports of multiple gaps in national safeguarding guidance. Now Scottish MPs are being asked to consider a petition into child safeguarding concerns around areas such as physical restraint in schools and handling child assault allegations.
Natalie: Ah yes, and there are campaigners who want the remit of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry to now include state schools.
Danielle: That’s correct, but the Scottish government has said that changing the remit to include the state schools would delay its conclusion.
Instead, Natalie Don, the Minister for Children and Young People has said the government was committed to all children and young people growing up “loved, safe and respected” with consistent care and protection, and everyone who works with them should be able to “identify and act on any concerns” they may have.
Natalie: Hopefully progress will be made quickly to ensure the proper protection of children and young people who are at risk!
Danielle: Let’s hope!
Danielle: The PSNI have released a new scam warning after a student was scammed out of £200,000. The international student, who is studying in Northern Ireland but is originally from China, was contacted by two men posing as officers from the ‘Beijing Police’. They told her she was a suspect in a money laundering scheme and threatened her with arrest if she didn’t pay them the money immediately.
Natalie: That poor woman. How scary.
Danielle: Of course, after she sent them the money as instructed, they cut off all contact. The PSNI have described the scam as “a really despicable, calculated crime” as the two men contacted the student via online platforms and phone calls, and even dressed up in uniforms to appear as genuine as possible. Unfortunately, this is not the only time something like this has happened. Last year, the PSNI received two similar reports of Chinese students studying in Belfast being targeted in a similar fashion. They lost £105,000 to scammers who said they were from the ‘Chinese Embassy’ or ‘Chinese police’.
Natalie: That is utterly awful, and just goes to show how scammers will frequently revisit scamming techniques by making small changes to try and go unnoticed.
Danielle: Exactly. The PSNI have urged everyone to be aware of the signs of scams and to report them as soon as possible. They have recommended following these five rules if you suspect you are being threatened by a scam: “always hang up the call immediately; always delete messages requesting personal information or bank account details; never call the number back; never click on links in texts or respond to unsolicited texts; and never transfer money to an unknown account” especially if you’ve received a call or text from someone you don’t know.
Natalie: As we’ve already mentioned, scams are getting harder and harder to recognise. If you find you have been taken in by a scam, or even if you’ve been approached by a scammer, it’s important to not feel embarrassed. Take action immediately and report the scam to the police on 101, to your bank, or to Action Fraud online.
Danielle: You can find out more by visiting our helpful resources on Scams in your free Safer Schools NI App.
Danielle: Well, Natalie, is it time?
Natalie: It is, Danielle! Time for our Safeguarding Success Story of the Week!
Danielle: Ah, this is always such a lovely moment in the podcast.
Natalie: It really is! This week, we’re looking at how a course on consent changed the lives of young offenders in Northern Ireland. The Listen, Learn, Lead programme is run through White Ribbon UK by the Northern Ireland founder Tahnee McCorry. It has been designed to allow men the opportunity to prevent and reduce violence against women by educating them on consent. This includes ways to recognise inappropriate behaviour, what constitutes a healthy relationship, and how to safely intervene or challenge a friend or colleague who is acting inappropriately.
Danielle: An important lesson for everyone to learn.
Natalie: It is! Now, normally this programme is rolled out in clubs or businesses. However, this summer, Hydebank Prison invited McCorry to the prison to teach the course to a group of young male offenders between the ages of 18 and 21, some of whom were serving time for serious sexual offences. The prison officers felt this programme could offer these young men an opportunity to learn about consent for the first time.
Danielle: And it was successful?
Natalie: Enormously. After a few weeks at the course, the men began to open up, with many of them saying how much they wished they’d learnt about consent in school and thanking McCorry for teaching them. The prison’s management was even impressed by the popularity of the programme, saying that attendance numbers were greater than what they anticipated. Not only that, but the men began to challenge each other during the classes as well, and there was one incident where two prisoners told another prisoner to stop being physical with a female member of staff who was attempting to restrain him. The prison officers also said they heard groups of the men having in depth discussions about what they had learned in the course.
Danielle: Wow, that is incredible. To think that the lessons being learned are actually being applied and carried out immediately after the training is just fantastic.
Natalie: One prisoner who attended the programme even said he thought it should be “compulsory” in schools, and said that it had changed how he viewed social situations, such as seeing a mate “trying it on” with a girl as pressure instead of “trying his luck”.
Danielle: What an inspiring story! It just goes to show the power of education and empowerment at any stage of life, and how this enables us all to protect others from harm.
Natalie: Exactly! That’s why we do what we do.
Danielle: It is! And we’ve got lots of training courses available that teach valuable lessons like this one, which you can find by making sure you have downloaded your free Safer Schools NI app or visiting our website.
Natalie: Join us next week as we keep you up to date with the latest in safeguarding news and alerts. You can follow us on social media in the meantime by searching for Safer Schools NI.
Danielle: Until next time…
Natalie: Stay safe!
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