New voice, old scam

I called the Lassen County Sheriff’s office about 12:15 p.m.  last Friday, Oct. 21. My concern was that my elderly brother received a scam phone call on his cell phone with his local number. He heard his grandson’s voice asking for $9,800 because he had been arrested in Colorado. And my brother heard his grandson tell him to call a certain number.

Luckily, my brother listened to the people in the Safeway grocery line, who heard his conversation, and advised him not to give any money. And so he went straight to the police station where he was informed that it was a scam call. All good; a happy ending.

When my brother told me the story, I asked him if he mentioned to the police department that the call contained his grandson’s voice. He said no. So, I called the Lassen County Police Department to inform them (and all citizens) that scammers have obviously increased their level of sophistication and now use computerized mimicry of a person’s voice. I know that computer-generated realistic voice recordings are not only possible, but how to do it can be found on YouTube.

When I related my concern to the Lassen County Sheriff Office switchboard operator, she said, “Oh, there are so many scams!” as though this particular one was of little importance. When I mentioned that my brother heard his grandson’s voice, she said that maybe the grandson was in on the scam. Yes, anything is possible, but I found that suggestion to be highly offensive. Here I am reporting a scam that could endanger any one of us and the representative of the sheriff’s office accuses my family member of being in cahoots with the scammers.

I was also put in touch with a dispatcher who said that she would see that the proper authority was aware of my phone call. This Letter to the Editor will also be sent to Sheriff Growdon.

Suzanne McDonald
Hamilton Branch