Research: more than half of Dutch people do not hear the difference between the real and cloned voice of a someone they know

Research: more than half of Dutch people do not hear the difference between the real and cloned voice of a someone they know

The government has issued a warning about online deception using the voice of an acquaintance or loved one.

  • 6 out of 10 Dutch people think a voice generated using ‘voice cloning’ is real.
  • Only 4% can correctly distinguish a cloned fragment of speech with any certainty.
  • 83% of Dutch people think voice cloning technologies will be used in the future to imitate others and therefore scam people.

The vast majority of Dutch people occasionally receive misleading text messages and emails from online criminals posing as someone they know or trust. Online criminals have discovered that they can clone voices using artificial intelligence (AI) to make them sound real. According to new government research, in cooperation with radio presenter Ruud de Wild, voice cloning technology has now developed to the point where real and cloned fragments of speech are indistinguishable for many people. More than half of Dutch people cannot distinguish between the cloned voice of someone they know and the real one. This is worrying because online criminals in other countries are already using this technique to scam people. The government is using the ‘Don’t be duped on the Internet’ (Laat je niet interneppen) campaign to urge everyone to be alert to online scams and always carefully check the identity of the sender of (voice) messages or conversations, even if they appear to be an acquaintance in need.

A drastic form of online deception

The availability of easily accessible and affordable online AI programmes means it is easy to duplicate a person’s voice. In English-speaking countries, such as the United States and Britain, online criminals are already using voice cloning technology maliciously to impersonate someone their potential victims might know. Given that voice cloning programmes can now already very realistically mimic Dutch voices, the government expects this drastic form of online deception to raise its ugly head here soon as well.

Ruud de Wild

Only 4% of the research subjects recognised a cloned voice clip of radio presenter Ruud de Wild as fake with any certainty. Even when they were aware that they may hear cloned fragments of speech, only half were able to distinguish between the original and the cloned copy. So more than 4 in 5 Dutch people (83%) admit to having difficulty distinguishing whether the voice of someone they know is real or cloned. A similarly large proportion of Dutch people (83%) think voice cloning technologies will be used in the future to mimic others and therefore scam people. 

“The fact that the voice of someone like me, who uses his voice professionally, can be copied is scary enough. But it gets even scarier if something like this can be done with, for example, the voice of a friend or family member,” says Ruud de Wild.


Online criminals are skilful at exploiting human characteristics, especially in stressful or unusual situations when people are less able to see through their deceit. If a voice message or (online) conversation sounds emotional or urgent, or relates to something serious or something that seems too good to be true, it is important to be wary.

As Manon den Dunnen, Strategic Digital Specialist for the Police, explains, “An easy rule of thumb is that, whenever it seems that someone is encouraging you to make a decision that is irreversible, such as transferring money or sharing confidential information, you should take a step back and try to verify the information by other means. Even if you know that person well. That may feel rude or unpleasant, but people will start to find this increasingly normal.”

The central government is advising people always to do an extra check if they have any doubts about the authenticity of the sender of a voice message or conversation. The advice is as follows.

  • Stop communicating with the person in question and contact the person you think it is directly. Do so, however, using the number you have in your list of contacts or of which you know that it is that person’s real number.
  • If you do not have their number, you should try contacting them via a friend, colleague or family member who does have the number. In any event you should never use the callback button that automatically dials the number the potential criminal used to contact you.
  • Ask a question that only the person you know will know the answer to. The question should not be about your dog’s name or birthday, nor something trivial. Neither should it be a what question. Instead the question should relate to something you have experienced with the person in question because any other information can probably be found out.
  • Lastly, there is nothing wrong with hanging up. Criminals take advantage of you not wanting to be rude.

Information about the research

The research was conducted on behalf of the central government by Verian (formerly Kantar Public) from 6 to 12 May 2024. Radio presenter Ruud de Wild voiced some audio clips which were then cloned with his permission. During the first part of the research, the research subjects were asked to listen to 3 cloned fragments of speech. During the second part, they were asked to listen to 2 versions of a fragment with identical content: one spoken by the real Ruud de Wild and the other by his AI-cloned voice. The representative sample included 1,046 Dutch people aged 18 and above.

Don’t be duped on the Internet

The multi-year campaign by the Ministry of Justice and Security and the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations urges people to check the identity of the sender of online messages and conversations. If in doubt, the advice is to press, click or swipe away. More information on how to spot this kind of online deception and what to do about it can be found at

Originally published at

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EU editor