Scammers used AI to tell the world I was dead. Why? I had to find out why

Deborah Vankin, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Lifestyles

When I died the other day, no one really noticed. That is, aside from a few alarmed members of my family.

“The event,” as I now call it, unfolded one morning last month as I was racing out the door to a meeting. My phone rang.

“De-De-Debbie, hi,” my dad said, nearly out of breath.“Listen: please DO NOT BE ALARMED by what I am about to send you!”

That got my attention.

“It’s an” — he paused for dramatic effect — “an obituary.”

“Oh, my God, for who?” I said, putting down my purse.




“There’s a rumor going around the World Wide Web,” he said, as if it were 1997, “that you died. Your obituary — it’s going viral internationally!”

He’d heard about it from my aunt, who gets updates from Google whenever my name appears online. I immediately called her.


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