Buckhead resident loses $1K in kidnapping scam

The scam often uses aggressive tactics and AI technology to replicate people's voices.
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 10:43 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - It’s one of the most aggressive scams out there, and anyone can be a victim...or a fake victim.

Atlanta News First sat down with Scott, a Buckhead resident, who recently paid $1,000 because he thought that money would save the life of a loved one.

“When I put the phone up to my ear, I heard crying and sobbing,” Scott said.

He thought he was getting a phone call from a family member.

“Yes, that’s what’s so bizarre,” Scott said. “It was this family member’s cell phone.”

Only it wasn’t. It’s a cloning tactic used by scammers to copy a number and make it look like someone you know is calling. Then, they spring their trap.

“It was very clear early on in the call that they were not going to release this person until I paid,” he said.

Scott tried to stall but eventually sent $1,000 via Zelle. The line went dead. He immediately called back.

“The family member was just getting out of the shower and had no knowledge that any of this was occurring,” he said.

After researching, Scott learned about the scam, which often uses AI to replicate voices and prey on people like him.

He’s telling his story to make sure others aren’t also taken advantage of.

“If I can do some good out of a really crappy situation, here I am,” he said.

Scott and his family have now established a safe word if this ever happens again and filled out an FBI internet crime complaint and paperwork with Atlanta police.

“It sucks being a victim when someone is preying on your emotions,” he admitted.

Scott isn’t optimistic about getting his money back and, in hindsight, thinks about other ways he could have responded, such as texting the family member in question or asking for proof of life.

“I didn’t think for a second it was a spoof,” he said.