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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, May 24, 2024
A Madison woman was scammed out of $8,800 by a man on the phone who claimed he was from the FBI.

A Madison woman was scammed out of $8,800 by a man on the phone who claimed he was from the FBI.

Phone scammers target elderly Dane County residents

The “Grandparents Scam” uses artificial intelligence to scam elderly residents out of thousands of dollars, according to the sheriff’s office.

The Dane County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents about a telephone scam primarily targeting senior citizens, called the “Grandparents Scam.”

According to a March 27 press release, some scammers use voice-cloning artificial intelligence software to create new recordings that mimic the stolen voice. 

Elise Schaeffer, public information and education officer for the Dane County Sheriff’s Office, said phone scams stealing people’s identity have been a consistent problem for the last five years. “People have lost thousands of dollars,” she said. 

Scammers typically request cryptocurrency, gift cards or wired money to limit the possibility of recovering stolen funds, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Dane County resident Melissa Luckas told The Daily Cardinal she visited an elderly relative who received a scam phone call. 

“I could tell the call upset her, and when I asked her who it was, she said it was her grandson,” Luckas said. “I listened in on the call, and they were saying they had been drinking and in a car accident and now were in jail.”

Luckas said she tried to tell her relative it was a scam, but her relative believed everything the scammers said. 

“They were preying on her emotions, and she was falling for it.” Luckas said. “She didn't question it at all.”

Elderly Americans lose approximately $28.3 billion annually to elder financial exploitation, according to a 2023 AARP report.

“She was not able to go out by herself, but I think she would have tried if they had told her she had to go get money or gift cards,” Luckas said. “After that, we were able to block all phone calls to her house that were not from approved numbers.”

Schaeffer said it is important to spread the word about the Grandparents Scam, especially as technology like AI develops.

“We do what we can to educate the public so they don’t become a victim,” she added.

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A March poll from the Pew Research Center reported 22% of Americans said they interact with AI “almost constantly or several times a day.” Another Pew Research study from February 2023 found only three in 10 U.S. adults surveyed were able to identify AI used in daily life.

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