After a telemarketer swore at his son nearly 10 years ago, Roger Anderson set out to cause robocallers, telephone fraudsters and scammers as many problems as possible.
His solution was to create an artificial intelligence call-deflection system that puts incoming spam calls on the line with a ChatGPT-powered personality, keeping fraudsters talking in circles as they attempt to extract financial information from a chatbot.
“This is really an incredibly silly idea,” Anderson, who founded the Jolly Roger Telephone Company, told Fox News. “But in a way, I think it’s the only way to combat unsolicited telemarketing because we just can’t seem to get a track on stopping all of these unwanted calls.”
“These robots, now thanks to ChatGPT, they tuned their conversation to the context of the call,” Anderson said. “So if a scammer is talking about debt consolidation, the robots will talk about how much debt they have and tease them a little bit.”
“If the scammer wants to talk about Medicare fraud, then the robots will talk about Medicare and keep them going,” he continued.
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Unwanted robocalls are the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) top complaint from Americans, who receive about 4 billion robocalls per month, the agency reported in August. Nearly $40 billion was lost to phone scams in America from May 2021 to May 2022, according to research last year from caller-ID company Truecaller.
“Right now, we’re all suffering under this tremendous abuse of telemarketing and scammers in the network,” Anderson told Fox News. “If you told the post office, ‘stop delivering spam letters, stop delivering junk mail to my house,’ they might have a hard time with that because they can’t open the envelope and read it for you, and it’s sort of similar to telecommunications.”
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There have been over 28 billion robocalls nationwide so far in this year, according to YouMail Robocall Index. A quarter of those calls were scams.
One telephone scam operator using auto-dial and voice technology can place hundreds of calls a minute searching for a victim, Anderson said. His AI-generated voice of an old man with memory loss, who he named Whitey Whitebeard, was purposefully designed to play the role of an enticing victim to jam up fraudsters’ operations.
The AI can also be programmed to Salty Sally, a distracted mother, or Whiskey Jack, a man busy watching a big game.
“ChatGPT has now taken over that conversation to keep those telemarketers on the phone as long as possible,” Anderson said. Jolly Roger Telephone uses the same AI tools the robocallers use “but instead we intercept that call, and we keep them busy, and we prevent them from calling other people down the line.”
Preventing robocall scams would not only restore people’s trust in picking up the phone, but it would save Americans money, Anderson told Fox News.
Reducing fraud and nuisance from illegal robocalls could save Americans over $13.5 billion a year, the FCC estimated in 2021.
“There was a time when our phones would ring and we want to pick it up and talk,” Anderson told Fox News. “And now it’s just not happening anymore.”
He said he hopes his new AI tool “gives everyone a sense of revenge and protection.”
To watch the full interview with Anderson, click here.
Ramiro Vargas contributed to the accompanying video.