WARNING: AI Catfishing is Infiltrating the Retail Industry

(StraightNews.org) – Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being used to manipulate images of online products to make them look better than they are. NPR published an article last month featuring an interview with a shopper who purchased a jacket for $40, and when it turned up, it looked nothing like the coat he thought he was buying. The purchaser believed the image of the coat was AI-enhanced, and experts are now warning that he was probably right.

Tech specialist Marva Bailer compared the sales trick with purchasing living room furniture based on an image of a “five-piece living room set with hand-painted throw pillows,” but all that turns up is the sofa. “Free tools that create professional images and campaigns are launched in minutes, reaching global audiences of millions,” she said, adding that such technology falls into the hands of scammers who offer what seems too good to be true. They are just that, she said, “too good to be true.”

The advance of AI has made fraud much easier, experts warn. Grant Cardone, an entrepreneur and internet personality, described how the AI works and what to do to avoid becoming a victim of fake advertising. He said all scammers need to do is verbally instruct a piece of software to create an image of a product. The AI application then generates a picture based on the verbal description.

Cardone said this differs from legitimate businesses using photography to capture their products in the best light, because the product is entirely fabricated and does not exist as seen in AI-generated images.

Mr. Cardone argues that sales platforms, such as eBay or Amazon, are responsible for preventing sales scams and should remove unscrupulous sellers from their sites. Hany Farid, professor of Digital Forensics at the University of California, believes digitally created images should automatically have a watermark that singles them out and lets buyers know the image is not of a genuine product.

“We will need to be vigilant,” Mr. Cardone concluded.

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