You're sitting at home in Kittery or suburban Boston or skiing in New Hampshire and receive a voicemail or actual phone call from your loved one or close friend frantically telling you they're in trouble; kidnapped, and overseas now, maybe in New York or Denver and in trouble with the police.

The New Yorker even has some terrifying stories about what AI is being used for like using  AI (artificial intelligence) to mimic the kidnapping of a loved one.

This is called voice cloning according to the Better Business Bureau and it's gaining speed as the BBB tracks such scams that sound convincing and terrifying with information that makes sense.

According to The New Yorker, widely available technology companies like ElevenLabs make voice clinging easy for scammers.

This has become easier now that TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram store endless videos of regular people talking. You take thirty or sixty seconds of a kid’s voice and log in to ElevenLabs, and pretty soon Grandma’s getting a call in Grandson’s voice saying, ‘Grandma, I’m in trouble, I’ve been in an accident.’ ”


Here's just one alert the BBB received.

Received call on 1-26-24 I thought it was my daughter-in-law she said Hi mom calling to say she was pulled over driving and has a broken nose and was frantic to have me call the lawyer right away. She asked me 3 times if I wrote the name & number down. I said yes. She said she had to go right now as they are taking her. Her voice sounded just like my daughter-in-law.

Whether you receive a voicemail or phone call from a colleague, your boss, a friend, or a loved one, the instructions will always involve wiring money for a rush project or a serious even life-threatening situation as the above did asking to send money to the lawyer mentioned in the call.

You may even receive transfer complete information adding to this scam's legitimacy to prolong the inevitable of finding out you were just scammed.


The BBB says whatever you do, don't react. Take a deep breath no matter how convincing or scary the phone call or voicemail sounds. After hanging up call the person who supposedly called you but whatever you do, don't dial the number that just phoned you, and don't call the number provided.

Never send money if anything feels off or until you can confirm that maybe it is a true emergency.

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