SAN DIEGO — A warning put out by the Federal Trade Commission aims to alert the public about the potential of a new scam that uses artificial intelligence to clone your voice and then can be used to rip you off – or worse. 

Here’s how it works: your voice can easily be stolen from off an Instagram reel or YouTube. Once your voice is cloned, which only costs between costs between $5 and $20, there’s no end to the possibilities.

Professor Nikolas Behar teaches cybersecurity at University of San Diego. In his other line of work, he is a bonafide professional hacker.

“It could be a call in the middle of the night: ‘I’m in a lot of trouble, and they’re trying to take my phone and trying to take all my belongings. Please help.'”

He cautions people to have a plan of defense: a code that only you and your family share so if you were to get a frantic call in the middle of the night, you could verify their identity.

“Something that is not posted on social media because folks that are going out and using this technology, they’re just as likely to go out and look at social media not just for clips of your voice, but also for information that they can potentially use like your pet’s name, your significant other’s name,” Behar said.

Behar describes this new frontier in A-1 as unchartered territory and like a many top tech company CEOs thinks “a pause” in the technology is a good idea.

Because as he says, the consequences of a misinformation campaign could be catastrophic.

“In the upcoming election, we will see a lot of disinformation around voice impersonation as well as deep fakes,” Behar said. “So we could potentially see a disinformation campaign that puts out video that shows a candidate say something that they didn’t actually say and then it goes viral.”