‘Mom, I Crashed the Car!’: Scammers Clone Son’s Voice to Ask Parents for $15,000 Bailout


January 18, 2024

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‘Mom, I Crashed the Car!’: Scammers Clone Son’s Voice to Ask Parents for $15,000 Bailout

A family from San Francisco went through a horrific ordeal with scammers who used voice-cloning technology to try and persuade parents to pay for their son’s bail.

Due to advancements in AI, a scammer simply needs a sample of the person’s image and voice to generate a convincing likeness. Phone the person’s family, add in a sense of urgency, and they can easily trick them into sending money to save their loved one from a dangerous, albeit fake, scenario.

The Trapp family living in the San Francisco Bay Area suffered this trickery first hand when they got a frantic call from their “son” saying he’d been in a car accident, injured a pregnant woman, and needed urgent help.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the scammers posed not only as the Trapps’ son but also as law enforcement instructing the distressed mother to quickly withdraw $15,000 in cash and hand it over to a courier already on his way to the family’s house.

The parents ultimately became suspicious and contacted police in the jurisdiction where the accident had allegedly taken place. Then they contacted their son on his mobile and quickly realized it had all been a scam.

The full story is worth a read as this can happen to anyone, anywhere. The feds have been warning Americans of the swindle for years.

For instance, the FBI last November put forth a public service announcement urging people to watch out for what the bureau called “grandparent scams.” The advisory describes the steps attackers typically take to reach their goal, describing the Trapps’ story almost to the T.

More recently, the US Federal Trade Commission turned to the general public to ask for good ideas to combat voice-cloning crime, offering $25,000 to the best scam-buster.

Bitdefender recently introduced Scamio, a free scam detector and prevention service for anyone with a Bitdefender account. Got a phishing email, suspicious message or fake ad? Simply describe your situation to our clever chatbot and let it guide you to safety. You can also share with Scamio exactly what you want to check, like a screenshot, PDF, QR code, or link. Scamio lets you know in seconds if it’s an imposture, a sham, or fraud.




Filip has 15 years of experience in technology journalism. In recent years, he has turned his focus to cybersecurity in his role as Information Security Analyst at Bitdefender.

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