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The FTC is trying to help victims of impersonation scams get their money back

The FTC is trying to help victims of impersonation scams get their money back

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a new way to combat impersonation scams, which it says cost people $1.1 billion last year alone. Effective today, the Agency Rule (PDF) "prohibits impersonation of the government, businesses, and their officers or agents in interstate commerce." This rule allows the FTC to file complaints directly in federal court to force scammers to return money stolen by business or government impersonation.

Impersonation scams are widespread – producers are on the lookout for fake podcast invitations that let scammers take over their Facebook pages via a hidden “dataset” URL, while The Verge found journalists attempting to steal cryptocurrency through fake calendar meetings. Found while trying. Found while trying. Have been impersonated by criminals. Add.

Linus Media Group was victimized by a thief who pretended to be a potential sponsor and managed to take over three of the company's YouTube channels. Some scams can also be very complex, such as The Cut's financial columnist Charlotte Cowles' story of how she lost a $50,000 shoebox in an elaborate scam involving a fake Amazon business account, the FTC, and the CIA. Gave. (See also: Gift card scams.)

The agency is also taking public comments until April 30 on rule changes that would allow it to also target impersonation of individuals through the use of video deepfakes or AI voice cloning. This will help in taking action against scams involving X or celebrity impersonation in YouTube ads. Others have used AI for more sinister fraud, such as clones of the voices of loved ones claiming to have been kidnapped.

In announcing the final rule last month, the FTC described the behavior it is targeting:

Using government seals or business logos when communicating with consumers by mail or online.

Spoofing government and business email and web addresses, including spoofing ".gov" email addresses or using lookalike email addresses or websites that rely on misspellings of a company's name.

Falsely indicating government or business affiliation by using words known to be associated with a government agency or business (for example, falsely indicating court affiliation by saying, "I am speaking from the clerk's office").