The dark new dawn of AI phone scams

David Bullard on the disturbing new con that preys on worried parents


There are fears that what is known as Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be used for all sorts of nefarious purposes in the future. Already AI can replicate voices and is already being used for phone scams. An article by Mary Wakefield in last week’s The Spectator tells of a woman who received a call from her son (or so she thought) saying he had been involved in a car accident and had been arrested. Could Mum please transfer the bail money?

Apparently voice scams are now the second most common con trick in the USA and they are about to hit a neighbourhood near you. All it requires is a snatch of speech that you may have put on Facebook or WhatsApp and the AI voice clone can do the rest.

Deep faking has now been around for a while but the technology is getting better all the time. Deep faking involves manipulating the image of someone and making that person say whatever you want them to say. 

So, for example, it would be perfectly possible to show a video of Pres Frogboiler announcing to the nation that the welfare grant is about to be lifted from R350 a month to R3 500 a month. Since the majority of people unquestioningly believe what they read in the mainstream media and what they see with their own eyes this deep fake would be accepted as genuine, particularly as the AI voice clone can get the voice spot on.

Already AI can produce a 1 000 word article on virtually any topic in the style of any number of writers or poets and can also produce artworks that imitate the style of famous artists. It can only be a matter of time before a new AI created Beatles album appears on Spotify.

Not surprisingly, Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, and a host of other artificial intelligence experts are urging AI labs to pause development of powerful new AI systems in an open letter citing potential risks to society.

They are suggesting a six month pause of next generation AI systems which sounds very reassuring until you realise that it would give China a six month advantage in the development of its own AI systems which will undoubtedly be used to further control the thoughts and behaviour of its 1.4 billion population.

Thankfully, here on the Southern tip of Africa we go more for GS (Genuine Stupidity) than we do for AI so we’re probably safe for the moment.


Back in the middle of March the DA’s Beverley Schäfer invited British

cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra to address any interested parties on the topic of the efficacy and safety of the Pfizer COVID mRNA vaccine at the Western Cape legislature’s auditorium. This was not an address to parliament but simply an opportunity to hear a well-researched contrarian point of view being put forward.

Whether you accepted it or rejected it was almost certainly immaterial as far as Dr Malhotra was concerned. Dr Malhotra met with John Steenhuisen and Helen Zille after and, not surprisingly, pictures appeared on social media of them with Dr Malhotra.

This was the cue for the anti DA leftist mainstream media to put the boot in.

It helped their cause that Cape Premier Alan Winde managed to become apoplectic at this flagrant demonstration of freedom of expression saying “I hope that how this event happened will be investigated”. A curiously totalitarian statement for a man who believes in the democratic process.

You can never go wrong if you describe someone as ‘controversial’ in the media because that immediately casts doubt on anything they may have to say. It’s rather like describing a company as ‘troubled’ in the business press. If they weren’t before they soon will be as investor confidence is sapped. So Dr Malhotra became the holder of ‘controversial’ views about the Pfizer vaccine. Which implies he is a whack-job so let’s just throw the accusation ‘anti-vaxxer’ in to make sure the mud sticks good and proper.

Then it’s a smart idea to trot out one of our very own experts; someone who understands the importance of there only being one unchallenged narrative.

In an article by Tamsin Metelerkamp in The Daily Maverick which appeared hot on the heels of Dr Malhotra’s talk Dr Nicholas Crisp, head of the national vaccination programme, was wheeled out to condemn the hosting of Malhotra as “highly irresponsible and undermining of everything we as health professionals have stood for to protect the public”. Isn’t it sweet to know they care so much about us?

He raged on: “Why anyone would arrange for a dissident to trash the science is beyond us. We call on all members of the public to get vaccinated because we know it reduces the severity of Covid-19 infection, even for those variants that escape normal immunity.”

The Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness also distanced itself from the views held by the invited speaker. Noteworthy is the fact that they weren’t prepared to enter into any debate or discussion with him?

However, it was on 19th March that The Daily Maverick decided that enough was enough and the big guns should be brought out. An op-ed piece by Linda-Gail Bekker with the scare tactic headline;

Aseem Malhotra’s visit to South Africa raises concerns over public healthcare safety appeared with the presumed intention of putting the whole matter to bed once and for all. According to her Wikipedia entry…

Linda-Gail Bekker MBChB, DTMH, DCH, FCP(SA) is a Professor of Medicine and Chief Operating Officer of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation. She is also Director of the DesmundTutu HIV Centre at the University of Cape Town. She is a Past President of the International AIDS Society (2016-18).[1]

I suspect the author meant Desmond Tutu but that aside she is a superbly qualified and dedicated medical professional who has devoted her professional life to working on HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis in the less glamorous parts of South Africa. Definitely not a glory seeker, so who better to take down this upstart anti-vaxxer Malhotra?

Professor Bekker writes;

While Malhotra states that he is presenting evidence-based data, his “evidence” is cherry-picked, anecdotal, or comprises falsely linked side effects to Covid-19 vaccination”.

“Malhotra is allied to known conspiracy groups such as Health Advisory and Recovery Team and the Children’s Health Defense, which is an organisation opposing vaccination. Many of his followers and supporters are avid

anti-vaxxers. Giving Malhotra opportunities for public forums also elevates the anti-vaccination lobby and amplifies their dangerous campaigns which potentially undermines all vaccine programs”.

At the end of her op-ed Prof Bekker has persuaded over 30 medical professionals to add their signatures assuring the public that COVID vaccines are indeed very safe and effective – whatever your risk profile - and there is absolutely nothing to be worried about.

This would all be very reassuring if it were true. Even Pfizer have been forced to admit that the vaccine they sold to most of the world doesn’t do what it was initially supposed to do. Dr Malhotra, far from being an anti-vaxxer, took the COVID vaccine himself and was an advocate for the vaccine until his healthy doctor father died suddenly in September 2021 after waiting more than thirty minutes for an NHS ambulance.

A year later Dr Malhotra decided to research the Pfizer mRNA vaccine and this is what has led him to being labelled a nutter, despite his research having been peer reviewed and despite the fact that it enjoys the support of many other medical professionals who aren’t cowed by the threat of excommunication from the official narrative club.

Professor Bekker’s allegation that his evidence is “cherry-picked, anecdotal, or comprises falsely linked side effects to Covid-19 vaccination” would appear to be incorrect and is unsupported in her article. 

But then again, who are we to question the 2009 winner of the prestigious Royal Society Pfizer Prize?

Fast forward now to 27th March 2023 and an application to the Gauteng division of the High Court of South Africa to have the case heard between the Freedom Alliance of South Africa NPC (Plaintiff) and the Minister of Health and 22 others (Defendants) - Case number 2023-027571. President Frogboiler is defendant number 21 and Pfizer is defendant number 23 according to the court papers. It is a case in which the reviled Dr Malhotra features as a key expert witness.

This is an action brought by a group of medical professionals and is highly likely to have international repercussions if successful. To quote from the Freedom Alliance media release:

“This case will see a full ventilation of all relevant facts pertaining to South Africa’s authorisation of the Pfizer vaccines.”

The Court papers explain that Pfizer was the entity responsible for commercialisation of their vaccine products, and yet SAHPRA relied solely on Pfizer’s data, and interpretation thereof, to authorise the vaccines, without having subjected that data to any independent checks and balances.

The inherent conflict of interest is startling and, as FASA argues, renders the registration of the Pfizer vaccine products vulnerable to judicial attack on the basis of irrationality. As far as FASA is aware this is the first, or one of the first, judicial reviews of the authorisation of Pfizer’s Covid-19 mRNA vaccine products, in the world.

The application is supported by eminent medical and scientific professionals and academics from South Africa and abroad, including a neurosurgeon, cardiologist, an mRNA expert, and an expert drug trialist.”

Interestingly, the media were briefed by the legal team handling this case and were initially quite happy to give it oxygen. But apparently things changed last week and various main stream publications have now refused to report anything about it. So much for a free press.

Three personal observations if I may to finish.

Two weeks ago the British Prime Minister during Question Time in the House of Commons was asked about the ceiling for compensation for those who have suffered debilitating effects following the COVID vaccination.

Currently the ceiling is the pound sterling equivalent of R2.7 million. Why is the UK government (OK…the UK taxpayer) having to stump up for these jabs gone bad? Well, the answer to that is very simple. When Big Pharma first came out with the COVID vaccines in record time they got governments to agree that there would be no legal recourse to the pharmaceutical companies should things go wrong. The only country I am aware of anecdotally that told them to get stuffed was India. So a very real fear among the supporters of the ‘official science’ is that the UK might be setting a precedent and that the SA Government might have to stump up hard cash should the FASA case succeed.

This would not only mean that there would be much egg on the face of the Alan Windes of this world ahead of an election year but substantially less local funding for research projects. If you’re ever in doubt as to what is driving a dodgy narrative I’ve always observed the sound advice ‘follow the money trail’.

Second point. Long ago there was some Italian bloke called Galileo who came up with the theory that the Sun and the rest of the planets didn’t circle the Earth as the centre of the universe but that the Earth rotated around the sun. This didn’t go down at all well with the church and Galileo was found guilty of heresy by the Roman Inquisition. Some things never change do they?

Third point. I find it fascinating that those involved in bringing this case to the South African High Court have no financial advantage in doing so. Quite the opposite in fact. They are also brave enough to put their professional reputations on the line in the pursuit of truth and justice. The same definitely cannot be said of many of those that so vehemently oppose them.