All About the AI-Backed Kidnapping Scam That Clones Voices of Loved Ones to Target Victims

All About the AI-Backed Kidnapping Scam That Clones Voices of Loved Ones to Target Victims
Cover Image: AI-powered kidnapping scams are on the rise (representative image) | Unsplash | Photo by James Kovin

AI may have unlocked productivity and creativity in the workforce but at the same time scammers are also using the tech to come up with new tactics to deceive victims. An age-old kidnapping scam has taken on a new level of sophistication with the aid of social media and artificial intelligence, as virtual kidnappers are now utilizing recordings and online posts to create eerily realistic scenarios, leaving unsuspecting parents in a state of panic, as per WCPO 9 News.

Pexels | Photo by Pixabay
Age-old kidnapping scams have taken on a new level of sophistication (representative image) | Pexels | Photo by Pixabay

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Kevin David, the owner of the successful appliance shop, The Appliance Loft found himself at the center of this terrifying ordeal. As a devoted father, he never imagined falling victim to such a scam. However, a recent phone call from his daughter, Brooke, shook him to the core. "It was Brooke's voice," David recounted. "She started calm, saying 'Dad this is Brooke' before descending into hysteria." The caller claimed to have Brooke in their custody and demanded a hefty ransom of $5,000 to ensure her safety. Distraught and desperate, David grappled with the horrifying prospect of his daughter being in danger.

By monitoring posts from potential victims and their families, scammers can tailor their approach to appear more convincing. Amy Nofziger, from AARP's fraud watch network, highlighted the disturbing trend: "They might be targeting someone they think has access to money and gathering information from their family's social media pages."

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Pexels | Photo by ThisIsEngineering
Scammers collect information from social media posts (representative image) | Pexels | Photo by ThisIsEngineering


Nofziger advised remaining calm and paying attention to the payment methods requested by the scammer, such as prepaid gift cards or cryptocurrency. Additionally, she recommended reaching out directly to the supposed victim through text or phone calls to verify their safety. Creating a family password to confirm emergencies can also thwart potential scammers.

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Brooke David emphasized the importance of refraining from sharing sensitive information, such as travel plans, on social media platforms. By exercising caution online, families can minimize the risk of falling prey to virtual kidnappers. Kevin David echoed these sentiments, urging vigilance among all age groups. "It's not just seniors and the elderly getting scammed here," he warned. "These guys are good." Fortunately, David did not succumb to the scam, and Brooke was found to be safe and sound.

Image Source: Pexels|Photo by Alex Green
Scam calls are on the rise (representative image) | Pexels | Photo by Alex Green


In another alarming case, Jennifer DeStefano found herself at the center of a harrowing ordeal when she received a distressing phone call while outside a dance studio where her daughter was rehearsing. The caller cloned Brianna's voice and claimed to have her daughter in custody, pushing DeStefano into a state of panic and desperation.

As the caller issued threats and demands for ransom, DeStefano's frantic efforts to verify her daughter's safety led to a chaotic scene at the dance studio. However, a swift investigation ultimately exposed the call as a scam, sparing Brianna from any harm.

As authorities warn of the increasing sophistication of such schemes, it is crucial for individuals to remain vigilant and take precautionary measures. By refraining from sharing sensitive information online, creating family passwords, and seeking immediate assistance from law enforcement in case of suspicious calls, families can mitigate the risk of falling prey to virtual kidnappers.


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