Michael Rock’s Family Nearly Fell for This Outrageous Scam
It was a lazy day at my house on Friday afternoon. My wife and I were taking advantage of some extra time we had off because of the Veteran's Day holiday. We were knocking off some of those small household tasks you can never quite get to because you never have the time.
I was changing the lightbulb above our kitchen sink when the recognizable ring tone from my father-in-law rang my wife's phone. Right off the bat, from my wife's reaction, I could tell something was wrong.
"She's in the hospital?" she asked. Followed by a shocked exclamation of the word, "JAIL?!?!?" These are two words you don't want to hear when you are listening to one side of a phone call. I couldn't begin to imagine what was going on.
To make a long story short, my father-in-law had just received a call from my sister-in-law (his daughter). She was hysterical. She had told him that she was just in an accident. She had been on her phone, driven through a stop sign and rear ended a car being driven by a woman who was 6 months pregnant. My sister-in-law told him the pregnant woman was in the hospital and she was--you guessed it--in jail!
My wife was stunned. She had just texted with her 90 minutes ago!
My father-in-law said he talked to the public defender. The bail was set at a whopping $15,000, and time was ticking. The banks were only going to be open for a little while longer on Friday before they would close for the holiday on Saturday. Getting $15,000 cash in hand was going to be difficult. He asked the lawyer to call me so I could help with the issue.
I started making a list of the many questions I wanted to ask the public defender as I waited by the phone, but the lawyer never called.
We were finally able to get a hold of my sister-in-law's husband. We were unsure where she was being held, so he left work early and made his way home. When he got home and walked through the door he was shocked to find his wife, my sister-in-law, sitting on the coach in front of the tv. "What are you doing here?!?!?" he asked.
"What do you mean?" she said. "I got out of work at 3:30 and drove home."
Our family had been the victim of a scam. Luckily, we never parted ways with our money. Artificial intelligence, or A.I., cloned my sister-in-law's voice and the thieves used it to call and trick my father-in-law. Yes. We're at a whole new level for scammers. Welcome.
We were stunned that this actually happened to someone in our family.
"Why didn't you just call me?" she asked.
"Because you were in jail!" I said. The truth is that our worry was so high for my sister-in-law and the poor pregnant mother that it occurred to NONE of us to call her. They had preyed upon our emotions. We were sitting ducks from the word go.
When we thought back on it, it would have been impossible to get in an accident, have the police arrive, assess the situation, send the woman to the hospital, arrest my sister-in-law, get her processed, in front of a judge, with bail set in the course of 90 minutes. Our logic, however, was disabled as we struggled to come to grips with the (fake) fact that a member of our family was in jail.
Let this be a warning. Scammers now have access to computer software that can steal your voice, clone it and use it against your loved ones. I suggest coming up with a family password. In a dramatic phone call like the one that plays out above, ask them to provide the password. It could save you a lot of worry and potentially a lot of money.
On a positive note, the jubilation we all felt when we found out she was not in jail ALMOST made the roller coaster ride worth it. Almost!
As for the bulb above my sink? It still hasn't been changed.
Online Reviews of New Bedford's Ash Street Jail and Dartmouth's Bristol County House of Correction
Gallery Credit: Michael Rock