DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: My grandparents are two of the smartest and wisest people I know. But even they got scammed by a call that used AI to have my actual voice tell them I was being held in a Honduran jail and needed to be bailed out, that I couldn’t reach my parents, and they were my only hope for help.
It was a super smart scam, because I actually did take a week-long trip to Honduras as part of my archeology summer camp program, set up by my school, before meeting my parents for a week with them near where the camp was held.
My parents thought it was a great way to tack on a family vacation so they booked a resort in Copan Ruinas so we could all meet there and fly home together. During the week I was doing my camp, they took a couple of eco tours booked through the resort.
So what it all meant was that there were two or three days where neither my parents nor myself had cell service. So when the scammers called my grandparents, and they heard my voice, they bought into it and wired almost $2000 for my “bail.” My grandparents tried to get my parents and me both several times before sending the money, but we were unreachable, and came back into service to calls and texts from them, but it was too late.
I feel crappy about it, as do my parents, who offered to repay my grandparents, but they said it was their fault, their loss. They reported the scam to all the proper authorities, with a little help from my parents, and let the rest of the family and their friends know what happened, and to be on guard against what they experienced.
Please let your readers know about this scam. The more people who know about this, the better. --- COULD HAPPEN TO ANYONE
DEAR COULD HAPPEN TO ANYONE: Several years ago, an older friend of mine fell victim to a very similar scam. That time it was her grandson “imprisoned in Mexico.” I don’t now recall all the details of her particular experience, but it sounds like advances in technology make these phone scams so much more believable, and that’s both aggravating and frightening.
Thank you for sharing your grandparents’ story. Hopefully it’ll help make more people aware of a new twist on an old trick.