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Voice Simulator Made To Sound Like Family Member In Trouble
Darren Doyle, story:
The Edmonson Voice was contacted by a local resident Monday morning with a report of a scam that took $1,900 from the resident's elderly parents.
The resident, who asked for neither her nor her parent's names to be published, said her parents received a phone call last week from someone claiming to be a certain family member that was in trouble while traveling in Mexico.
According to the resident, the caller requested credit card numbers. It was unclear whether the couple refused the credit card information or if they didn't have credit cards; however, the caller then instructed the couple to take cash to an area gas station/food mart and purchase Google gift cards.
The resident said that the caller provided names and numbers from those at the American Embassy and read the couple specific laws that that apparently been broken to cause this "trouble" that they faced.
After spending $1,900, the couple soon realized they had been scammed and contacted the Kentucky State Police. The resident said that KSP described the scam as a "high tech operation using voice simulators" to make it sound just like the family member was calling, and that the operation could have much more local ties than it appears.
The resident also said KSP would not likely be able to recover the scammed money because cash was used to purchase gift cards and the numbers of the gift cards were transferred to the caller. The caller's number was tracked to a pay-by-minute phone purchased in Canada.
"They were told a very elaborate story that was very believing and the voice simulator just sealed the deal," the resident told the Edmonson Voice. "This person was begging and crying for their help and played on their sympathy. I have warned my parents so many times about this but they fell for it and others will, too. People are so busy today they forget what kind of a world we live in anymore, but if running the story will help someone else from falling for it then that is what I want."
Trooper Jeremy Hodges said that KSP is currently working more to educate the public on several popular scams that are currently circulating. The above scam is sometimes known as a "Grandparents Scam."
"The caller claims that they're a grandson, granddaughter, or other family member and they're traveling out of the country," said Hodges. "They describe how they've been involved in some sort of traffic violation or other trouble. They ask for money to pay a fine or to use it to get out of trouble in another way, while often asking the grandparents 'don't tell mom and dad.'"
Hodges said that more than $20K has been reported this year alone to the Attorney General's office in similar scams.
Trooper Hodges said by following these guidelines, you can help protect yourself and family members from the next phone scammer:
"Call someone close by that you trust and ask them to help you research the situation. There is usually someone in your family that can find out if another family member is traveling or needs help," he said.
He also said to report any sort of scam attempt to local law enforcement.