Scammers are now using advanced technology to scam unsuspecting citizens into paying them money and revealing personal details. The latest string of scams involves con artists using Artificial Intelligence technology to mimic the voices and/or facial features of people to trick their family and loved ones. “It looks just like you. It sounds just like you, but it’s not you,” tech expert Craig Agranoff told CBS12.
Scammers are primarily targeting the less tech-savvy demographic who are unaware of such technology. The target demographic mostly includes older people, thus, it’s called the ‘Grandparent Scam.’ The scam was reported by Attorney General Ashley Moody who announced the Cyber Fraud Enforcement Unit for Florida earlier this month.
What is the ‘Grandparent Scam’?
Attorney General Ashley Moody also launched a new Summer Scams Series called Tech Traps to spread awareness of how fraudsters use technology to fool people. The first feature in the series is the ‘Grandparent’ scam, which involves imposters who claim that they have kidnapped a family member like their grandchild or any other loved one. Scammers use sophisticated algorithms and voice-synthesis technology to mimic human voices to fool people into believing a phone call is from a known individual or a loved one. Using the new technology, the scammer pretends to have kidnapped a family member in an attempt to coerce them to give ransom money.
Apart from grandparents, people are also getting scammed on dating scams through catfishing scams as well, according to Agranoff. Over 42,000 Floridians lost a combined total of more than $844 million in 2022 to cybercrime, as per the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. To help people get justice and spread awareness against such scams, Attorney General Ashley Moody established the Cyber Fraud Enforcement Unit for the state of Florida. On the portal, citizens are warned about new scams which target people using technology.
Scammers are using Smart TVs
Another new scam shown on the website portal of the unit involves the use of Smart TVs to fool people. The scammers show pop-up messages on the victim’s smart TV and try to gain remote access to the device once the user clicks on them. Then they steal personal or financial information stored in the online account on the device. The scheme usually starts with a pop-up appearing on a smart TV, which has instructions to call tech support or to visit a website to fix an issue with their smart TV. As soon as the users click on these links, malware is downloaded in the system or they are asked to pay a fake fee or even give up personal information.
How to be safe from such scams?
Even though scammers are using advanced technologies to fool people, there are ways to stay protected from such fraud. One way to ensure safety is to double-check the information given by the scammers. Asking personal questions that only the supposed loved ones could answer is another way to verify their identity. Further, people should be wary of any urgent requests, especially when money is involved.
For victims of cyber fraud, the Cyber Fraud Enforcement Unit recommends:
1. Securing devices and changing all passwords
2. Collecting and preserving evidence by taking screenshots
3. Immediately report the crime to FDLE’s Computer Crime Center
4. Notifying the bank and credit card company and monitor accounts to check for identity theft
5. Updating all antivirus, firewall, and security software.
The Cyber Fraud Enforcement Unit is a team of criminal and civil attorneys who work with Florida Department of Law Enforcement analysts and other law enforcement agencies. The unit is already working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and law enforcement on cybercrime investigations across the state to help victims of cybercrime get justice and spread awareness on how to be safe from fraud and prevent cybercrime.