December 30, 2023 • 2 mins
Scammers don’t have empathy or much of a heart. They may stop at nothing to trick someone out of their money – even if it means toying with someone’s emotions. Romance scams use false intimacy to steal money from someone, but there’s another form of fraud that pulls on someone’s heartstrings: grandparent scams.
It’s easy for scammers to gain access to consumers’ personal information. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), they can purchase data from cyber thieves, or simply scroll through social media to piece together a convincing story that preys on the fears of grandparents1.
Once the story is in place, the scammer will call the victim and impersonate a grandchild (or another close relative) in a crisis situation that requires immediate financial assistance. Sometimes these callers “spoof” the caller ID to make the incoming call appear legitimate.
Scammers now use artificial intelligence (AI) technology to mimic voices to convince a victim that a loved one is in distress. All it takes is a short audio sample and AI tools to hold a conversation in that voice using the imposter’s script, usually during the call.
If a trusted person ever pressures you into sending money, the best thing you can do is hang up and call your grandchild at a number you know – never use the number provided by the scammer.”
If a family member contacts you because they’re caught in an unlikely situation, trust your instincts and hang up the phone. The FCC says to be especially vigilant if you receive a call and the imposter:
If a trusted person ever pressures you into sending money, the best thing you can do is hang up and call your grandchild at the number you have stored. Never use the number provided by the scammer.
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1 Federal Communications Commission, “‘Grandparent’ Scams Get More Sophisticated”, updated March 9, 2023