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Graham’s Newsletter

Three Money Ideas – How to foil AI scammers

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How are scammers using AI to extort money?​

Scammers are now demanding ransom by faking voices of loved ones. The voices sound so real that 77% of victims paid up.

For example, the New Yorker reported the story of Robin who got a call at 2 am claiming that her mother-in-law Mona was held hostage. The lady could hear a voice on the other end and it sounded exactly like Mona. The criminal extorted $750 threatening to kill her. After cutting the call, the family called her up and found that she had been safely asleep.

They had been scammed.

This wasn’t an isolated incident. Parents and grandparents have been scammed with voices of children. The criminals usually create a sense of urgency to keep the people on the phone.

How are these calls happening? McAfee reported that there are AI tools that can fake voices with just a 3 second sample. More than half of all adults share their voice on social media every week. You never know who’s watching. Be careful of what you share online.

Here’s some advice from the FTC on what to do if you get such a call: 1. Stall on the call. Don’t talk much as they could record your voice and clone it. 2. Try to verify the location of the person they’re threatening. 3. Have a codeword for such situations that would identify if the other person is really in trouble. 4. Avoid picking up calls from unknown numbers and use call blockers.

While only a small percentage of people fall for such scams, people could lose anywhere from $1,000 to $15,000 in the worst case.

Do you know of anybody who’s been caught in a situation like this? How would you deal with such a situation?

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Why is 2% inflation the target?

2% is the magic inflation number.
How did we decide on 2%?
The answer is absurd:

In 1988, Roger Douglas, New Zealand’s Finance minister ​gave a TV interview​ to talk about the government’s monetary policy. The country was just recovering from a heated spell of inflation. Rates had just dropped below 10% from 15% highs.

The reporter asked him whether the government was satisfied now, with this lower level of inflation. Douglas replied, no, they’d ideally want an inflation rate between 0% and 1%. Now the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Don Brash had a problem (shown in pic below).

Douglas had come up with this number off the cuff, but now the pressure was on Don Brash to achieve this number. After some discussion, Don’s team figured out that there was usually an error margin of 1%, so a target of 2% was realistic.

Why a 2% target? ​Nobody knew​. No country was running its economy based on inflation targeting at that point, but once Don and his team decided on this number, they went around the country setting expectations so that people could plan for a 2% increase.

Other countries liked the predictability that came with the “2% increase” target. It wasn’t too high, and it wasn’t too low (a target of 0% left governments with no room to reduce rates if there was a recession in the future for example). So Canada adopted the idea next, the UK followed suit, and it was only in 2012 that Ben Bernanke made it an explicit policy target for the US.

That’s right, we’re playing catch-up to an inflation policy that isn’t even old enough to watch a PG-13 movie. Anyway, this is the reality we have to deal with now, and in an effort to hit this target, the Fed has once again paused rate cuts.

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Should you focus on quality or quantity?

"Creators are of two types.
Machine guns create all the time and self-correct.
Snipers publish only the best but hit on target."

David Perell said this first.

It's a beautiful way to look at things.
I think beginners should go for the machine gun approach. Here's why:

Jerry Uelsmann, a professor at the University of Florida conducted an experiment in his film photography class.
He divided his students into two groups. The "quality" group had to submit just one photo, but it had to be the best they could do. The "quantity" group was graded based on how many photos they submitted. It didn't matter how terrible their photos were. They just had to shoot as many photos as they could.

At the end of the semester, the result was surprising.
The quality group turned up with one photo of dubious quality. But the quantity group didn't just turn in better photos, they had visibly improved in all aspects of photography from lighting to composition to darkroom methods.

I could only control the input, not the output – but the video quality did get better over time.

Focusing on quality isn't a bad idea. But when you're starting out, you don't even know what to pay attention to. Not putting in the work can lead to overthinking and perfectionism.

I recommend beginners just publish first and think later.

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That's it for this week. Let me know your thoughts by responding to this email - I read every single comment :)

Stay safe, stay invested and I will see you next week – Graham Stephan.

113 Cherry St #92768, Seattle, WA 98104-2205
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Graham’s Newsletter

A 33 year old real estate agent and investor with over $120M in residential real estate sales. This is my way of sharing actionable ideas that will make you a smarter and wealthier investor.

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