SSA OIG Briefs Congressional Committee and IG Ennis Launches Taskforce to Combat Rising AI Fraud
Jul 25, 2023
On July 19, 2023, Anthony “AJ” Monaco, Special Agent in Charge, Major Case Unit, Social Security Administration (SSA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) briefed members of the United States House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security on SSA OIG’s Response to AI-assisted Threats to Programs and Systems.
“Artificial intelligence is quickly becoming a primary driver of emerging technologies and is impacting society in ways that everyone throughout the public and private sector are just beginning to understand,” said Monaco during the briefing.
“In both investigations and audits, our goal is to be at the forefront of AI-related issues by learning to leverage AI, such as in using advanced algorithms to spot abnormalities and outliers that are indications of fraud.”
Monaco went on to discuss a recent SSA OIG investigation where agents discovered that an AI powered “chatbot” was used to impersonate beneficiaries and contact customer service representatives to divert monthly benefit payments to spurious accounts.
Like the government impersonation scams SSA OIG investigates, the chatbot numbers originated from overseas. The chatbots were effective in moving stolen Social Security benefits into the stream of criminal commerce here in the United States, where organized rings of “money mules” collected and moved the proceeds.
Inspector General Ennis recently established an internal Task Force to study AI and related technology. From this effort, SSA OIG expects to determine the tools, processes, and staffing needed to investigate and deter AI-related fraud and to leverage AI in these efforts.
Further, Inspector General Ennis wrote Acting SSA Commissioner Dr. Kilolo Kijakazi on July 19, 2023, that SSA and the OIG must collaborate as the agency examines the use of AI to make programs more efficient. Further, the Inspector General discussed how AI makes SSA funds, particularly the delivery of those funds electronically to beneficiaries, susceptible to fraud.
Inspector General Ennis wrote, “the OIG understands that criminals will use AI to make fraudulent schemes easier and faster to execute, the deceptions more credible and realistic, and the fraud more profitable. The OIG is in the early stages of understanding how criminals will leverage AI to commit fraud against SSA.”
SSA OIG will review any applicable risk assessments, vulnerabilities, and/or efficiencies gained utilizing AI in SSA programs. Moreover, with these oversight tools, we plan to assist SSA to address AI threats to the agency and to Social Security beneficiaries.
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