The Heritage Law Center, LLC Blog

New Technology is Making Scam Efforts More Believable

POSTED ON: July 9, 2024

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Consumer Sentinel report for 2022, older Americans reported losing more than $1.6 billion to frauds and scams. The dollar amount is likely much higher than that since not all incidents are reported. The FTC actually estimates that as much at $48.4 billion could be what seniors lost to scams in 2022.

What happens when you put scammers together with new technology? They just keep fine-tuning their efforts to manipulate people out of more money. According to AARP’s article “6 Top Scams to Watch Out for in 2024,” you should keep your eyes out for these tricks.

Check Cooking Scam

Fraudsters take a digital photo of a stolen check and use software to change it. Checks are stolen from postal boxes, mailboxes, or carriers. The result is the altered check looks real; even having the watermarks still intact.

What you can do to stay safe.
You can avoid this scam by paying with a credit card or using online bill payment, but what if you’re more comfortable writing checks? You’ll just need to make it more difficult for scammers to get their hands on your check by dropping the check off in the nearest post office. It’s also important to constantly monitor your checking account and report to the bank anything that looks suspicious to you.

Voiceprint Scams

Scammers can now record your voice and use software to create an imitation of your voice saying whatever they want. They have used this method to access people’s accounts at insurance companies and financial institutions.

One example of this type of scam happened in October 2023 to an 82-year-old man named Jerry in Sugar Land, TX. He got a call from a police Sargent at the San Antonino Police Department. The Sargent said Jerry’s son had been in a car accident and was being held in jail since he had caused the accident. Jerry’s son then got on the phone and explained what was going on.

The original caller got back on the phone and told Jerry what money needed to be paid to get his son out of jail. Unfortunately, it hadn’t been a real police office or Jerry’s son on the phone. It had been an AI-generated version of his son’s voice. Jerry ended up getting swindled out of $17,000.

What you can do to stay safe.
You can avoid having your voice “stolen” by not answering the phone or picking the phone up but waiting for the caller to verify who they are before you speak. Remember, scammers can clone your voice if you speak just a few words.

Even if it appears that the call is from someone you know, it’s possible that phone was stolen or had its SIM card cloned. If you’ve answered the phone and it sounds like a loved one asking for money, hang up and either text your loved one or call them to see if the original call was valid.

Delayed Action Sweepstakes Scam

The newest sweepstakes scam is that someone contacts you by phone or in writing and ask for information like your Social Security number and banking information in order to verify who you are and set up the big prize payout. In reality, it’s just an identity theft effort.

What you can do to stay safe.
The rule here is to just disconnect from anyone claiming you’ve won a big prize. You should never give up your personal information.

Virtual Celebrity Scam

Fans can interact with their favorite celebrities on social media. The problem is sometimes the person behind the account isn’t actually associated with the celebrity. Then the account reaches out to a fan asking for something. It’s just another way to scam people.

What you can do to stay safe.
If you get a direct message from someone saying they are a famous person, don’t believe them.

Multistage Grandparent Scam

You’ve heard about this basic fraud effort before. Someone calls pretending to be a grandchild in trouble who desperately needs money for the dangerous situation they’re in. This manipulation has gotten even more elaborate, which makes it even more believable. The “grandchild” will provide a case number which sounds legitimate, and ask the grandparent to call their attorney.

The grandparent then calls the phone number provided. The person who answers asks for the case number and provides directions for the grandparent to follow.

What you can do to stay safe.
What you should do is call or text your grandchild at their usual number talk to them to find out if they are actually in trouble. If they don’t answer, contact other family members or friends to investigate whether if the emergency situation is real.

Paris Olympics Scam

With the Paris Olympics games coming up this summer, it will be a prime opportunity for a fake emergency scam. Someone could hack a person’s email account and send out a message to that person’s contact saying that they’re in Paris and their wallet was stolen. Please send money via Venmo or a gift card to help them.

What you can do to stay safe.
You should follow the same guidelines we mentioned in the grandparent scam to try to confirm if your relative/friend is really in trouble in Paris and needs money.