The voice on the phone seemed frighteningly real — an American mother heard her daughter sobbing before a man took over and demanded a ransom.”Help me, mom, please help me,” Jennifer DeStefano, an Arizona-based mother, heard a voice saying on the other end of the line.
American officials have warned of a rise in what is popularly known as the “grandparent scam” -– where an imposter poses as a grandchild in urgent need of money in a distressful situation.
“You get a call. There’s a panicked voice on the line. It’s your grandson. He says he’s in deep trouble —- he wrecked the car and landed in jail. But you can help by sending money,” the US Federal Trade Commission said in a warning in March.
“It sounds just like him. How could it be a scam? Voice cloning, that’s how.”
In the comments beneath the FTC’s warning were multiple testimonies of elderly people who had been duped that way.
– ‘Malicious’ –
That also mirrors the experience of Eddie, a 19-year-old in Chicago whose grandfather received a call from someone who sounded just like him, claiming he needed money after a car accident.
The ruse, reported by McAfee Labs, was so convincing that his grandfather urgently started scrounging together money and even considered re-mortgaging his house, before the lie was discovered.
“Because it is now easy to generate highly realistic voice clones… nearly anyone with any online presence is vulnerable to an attack,” Hany Farid, a professor at the UC Berkeley School of Information, told AFP.
“These scams are gaining traction and spreading.”