Tuesday, April 23, 2024

New scam tactic may draw you in — but don’t fall for it


A new scam tactic is causing confusion and chaos as people receive phone calls where the person on the line sounds like someone the receiver knows — but it’s done through voice cloning. The scammer will attempt to create a scary scenario and usually will proceed with asking for money. Another scam being pulled is a number popping up on someone’s phone of someone they know, but it’s not the actual person. These scams have been circling the United States and have now hit Hood County.

The Federal Trade Commission says most all scammers will ask for a form of payment that is hard to get back such as gift cards, wire money and cryptocurrency.

According to the Federal Trade Commission scammers will often have some information about you obtained through social media or sometimes by just guessing. They will often stress the situation they have made up is urgent and if the receiver doesn’t act quickly, something bad may happen. The scammer will also attempt to play with the receiver’s emotions by trying to make you feel guilty if you don’t act to help out whoever is in trouble.

The FTC says it is best to hang up the phone and contact the person whose voice was being cloned to ask them to verify if this is true. If the receiver doesn’t feel comfortable hanging up, they can ask personal questions about the so-called friend or family member.

If you do happen to send the scammer money, it is best to act quickly based on the form of payment. If you pay with a debit or credit card, you will need to contact the company or bank that issued the charge and alert them of a fraudulent charge.

Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds told the HCN the agency has received numerous reports of residents receiving these scam calls and recommended reporting such calls to law enforcement.

Multiple residents in Hood County shared their stories with the HCN regarding scam calls they received.

Ashley Morgan Ennis was out of town back in June when her husband received a call saying that Ennis had been abducted — the voice was cloned to sound like her. Sharon McLellan also had suspicious calls from what were supposedly her grandsons. They claimed they were in jail and needed bond money to get out. Neither Ennis nor McLellan fell for the scams, but the voice cloning can sound very real, making the calls easy to believe.

There have also been reports of people getting phone calls from their own numbers or calls from a number the receiver thinks is someone they know.

One way to avoid these scary scenarios is to create a safe word among one’s family. Using a safe word will ensure that if a family member is ever in trouble, the family will know the situation is real.

To report a scam, visit ReportFraud.ftc.gov.