4 weeks ago

Democratic consultant who masterminded AI-generated fake Biden robocall scheme indicted on 26 charges

  • The Democratic consultant who admitted to orchestrating the fake Joe Biden robocall has been indicted.

  • Steve Kramer was hit with 26 felony and misdemeanor charges, along with a proposed $6 million fine.

  • Thousands of voters received the AI-generated Biden call before New Hampshire's January primary election.

The Democratic consultant who admitted to masterminding a bogus Joe Biden robocall scheme has been hit with dozens of charges.

New Hampshire's attorney general announced in a press release on Thursday that the state has indicted Steve Kramer on 26 charges, including 13 felony counts of voter suppression and 13 misdemeanor counts of impersonating a candidate. Each pair of charges relates to 13 individual voters who received the call, though they weren't the only ones in the state to get it.

Ahead of New Hampshire's primary election in January, thousands of voters in the state reported receiving a robocall featuring an AI-generated voice of Joe Biden telling them not to go out and vote, NBC News first reported.

The attorney general alleges that Kramer engaged in felony voter suppression "by sending or causing to be sent a pre-recorded phone message that disguised the source of the call, deceptively using an artificially created voice of a candidate, or providing misleading information in an attempt to deter" voters.

Kramer, working for Minnesota Rep. and then-presidential hopeful Dean Phillips at the time, told NBC News in February that he was the mastermind behind the scheme. A New Orleans-based magician and fork-bending world record holder also admitted to the outlet that Kramer had hired him to generate the Biden audio but did not know it would be distributed. He has not been charged in connection with the incident.

Phillips' press secretary previously told Business Insider that the Phillips campaign did not ask Kramer to create the fake Biden robocall, and that it was "disgusted" by the call and Kramer's alleged involvement.

In a separate announcement on Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission proposed imposing a $6 million fine on Kramer "for apparently illegal robocalls made using deepfake, AI-generated voice cloning technology and caller ID spoofing to spread election misinformation."

"I am pleased to see that our federal partners are similarly committed to protecting consumers and voters from harmful robocalls and voter suppression," New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella said of the FCC's announcement. "I hope that our respective enforcement actions send a strong deterrent signal to anyone who might consider interfering with elections, whether through the use of artificial intelligence or otherwise."

A spokesperson for Kramer declined to comment on the charges, and Kramer did not immediately respond to BI's request.

Kramer previously told Business Insider that "with a mere $500 investment, anyone could replicate my intentional call," adding that finding voters to reach out to was simple. "A voter list can be purchased quickly and easily through any political vendor," he said.

Robocall fraud experts also previously warned Business Insider that the New Hampshire incident is "just the tip of the iceberg," and we should expect more to come in a dangerous new era for political spam calls.

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