NEW YORK (PIX11) — The NYPD is warning about increased internet, tech support and phone scams, including those that use Artificial Intelligence to simulate a relative’s voice.
On Staten Island, Assistant Chief Joseph Gulotta tells PIX 11 News that this year has seen a 13% increase in scams targeting people older than 60. From January until the end of August, Staten Island victims have lost an estimated $2,765,295.00
The most common are investment and tech support scams, where a pop-up will lock your screen and tell you to call Microsoft or another company.
Phone scams where a caller says a loved one is in trouble are also routine. Police said more sophisticated scammers use Artificial Intelligence to simulate a relative’s voice.
Assistant Chief Gulotta told PIX11 News it happened to him. A person claiming to be his daughter called his cell and said she had been in an accident.
“The voice was eerily like my daughters; it definitely seemed to be computer generated,” Gulotta said.
PIX11’s Eileen Lehpamer spoke with an 86-year-old Staten Island man who asked not to be identified. He recently handed over $50,000 after getting a phone call from a man who sounded like his son. The “son” said he had been arrested for DWI and broken his nose.
“It sounded like him, even though it was nasally, and the fact that he mentioned his wife’s name,” the victim told PIX11 News.
The victim said another man was pretending to be an attorney.
“Explaining to me the cops are going to lock him up. They took his iPhone, to the point I got scared for my son,” he said.
The best advice from the police:
“When someone tries to high pressure you, just hang up,” police said.
If the caller said they were your loved one, call them back directly. If it’s a pop-up on a computer or a caller claiming to be from Microsoft, Con Ed or another company, hang up. Then, Google the number and call back the number you found to make sure.
Lastly, police said don’t be embarrassed if you fall for a scam. Report it immediately.