LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - John and Carol Dickinson answered their phone last week to hear their granddaughter’s voice. Hannah was crying and begging for help after she was involved in a car crash. She said she couldn’t talk anymore but an attorney would be calling in a few minutes asking for $10,000 in bond money.
Carol and John withdrew the money and mailed it overnight, but it was all a scam.
Carol said, “He said I need $10,000 bond for Hannah. I said ‘We don’t have that kind of money.’ He said ‘You can’t do something like that for your granddaughter?’ So I said, ‘Well, ok.’”
It appears scammers used voice cloning technology to mimic Hannah’s voice. The Dickinson’s said the voice over the phone sounded exactly like Hannah’s.
Carol said, “I would swear on a stack of bibles it was Hannah’s voice and John would too.”
The next day the scammers called again asking for another $2,000. This time for court fees. The Dickinson’s, just wanting their granddaughter to be safe, got the money. Carol purchased $2,000 worth of Target gift cards and shared the card information over the phone with the scammers.
A manager at Target stopped Carol to ask if she was being scammed.
“He said, ‘I have to ask you this: Is anyone forcing you to do this?’ Well, Hannah told me not to tell anybody and all I could hear is her crying and begging so I said, ‘No, this is for gifts,’” said Carol.
The scammers said the Dickinson’s would get all of their money back in 24 hours, but when Carol checked her bank account it was still missing the $12,000.
Two days after being scammed, the Dickinson’s were able to get in touch with the real Hannah. It was then that they realized they had been scammed.
Carol said, “I took the phone and I said, ‘Hannah, you weren’t in an accident? ‘No.’
“You didn’t call us for money? ‘No.’
“Did you see a judge? ‘No.’
“You told grandma he was very nice.”
The Dickinson’s tell News 10 it doesn’t look like they will get their money back. News 10 reached out to the state Attorney General’s Office which said scams like this are common.
If you get a call like this verify the identity and location of the child or call another family member who can confirm the child’s whereabouts. Stay calm and avoid acting out of urgency.
Click here for a full list of what to do if you’ve been scammed.
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