PS Radhakrishnan has not taken calls from unknown numbers since July 9. The 72-year-old Kozhikode resident retired from Coal India Limited (CIL) 12 years ago and has spent every day since wondering what he could have done better.

“It wasn’t just the voice or the face,” Radhakrishnan says over the phone at midday. “It was the way the face moved, the way the eyes crinkled, and the way the lips moved in perfect sync with the voice I was hearing.”

The septuagenarian received a message from an unknown number early on July 9. The individual on the other end of the line claimed to be a fellow ex-CIL employee and inquired about the well-being of many ostensibly shared friends. He then made a WhatsApp voicecall and told Radhakrishnan that his sister-in-law had been admitted to a hospital in Mumbai, and that he urgently needed to raise funds for her treatment. He gave Radhakrishnan another unknown number, requesting him to transfer R40,000 via UPI.

“I had heard of impersonation scams and even though I was talking to him, I still wanted to be extra careful,” Radhakrishnan recalls, “I expressed these concerns and the next thing I knew, he was making a video call. I picked up and we spoke for around 25 seconds; the minute he made that call, all my defences were shattered. After hanging up, I transferred the amount to him.”

As McAfee’s research report observes, AI has already changed the game for cybercriminals. The barrier to entry has never been lower, which means it has never been easier to commit cybercrime.

But two can play the game, says Guttula.

“It’s important to note that while AI can enhance the capabilities of cybercriminals,” he says, “it also significantly strengthens the tools and techniques available to cybersecurity professionals. The challenge lies in continuously innovating and remaining one step ahead.”


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