Alert! Kidnapping scam now using AI to terrify parents

A decade-old scam is becoming even more convincing, thanks to social media and A-I.

Virtual kidnappers can now use recordings and online posts to appear more realistic than ever.

Businessman targeted by kidnapping scam

It targeted Kevin David, who owns a very successful appliance shop, The Appliance Loft, and is a doting father.

But he learned anyone can fall victim to a scam these days.

"This is one of those scams you’d think you’d never fall for," he said.

His world came crashing to a stop recently when he received a terrifying call from his daughter Brooke.

"It was Brooke's voice," he insisted. "It started out very calm and slow, with her saying 'Dad this is Brooke.'"

The young woman then became hysterical.

"I couldn't understand anything else she was saying," David said.

He said a man suddenly got on the phone.

"He says we've got Brooke, and she's in the back of my car now,'" David recalled.

The man wanted $5,000 wired to him, or he would hurt her.

Luckily, a co-worker saw what was happening and called Brooke directly, where they realized she was at school and in class, perfectly safe.

But David is sure he heard her crying for help.

"They had her voice, they had her name, they had my name," he said.

How scammers get their information

The FBI has issued warnings about virtual kidnapping scams, saying social media has really changed the game.

That’s because scammers could be tracking posts from you, your children or grandchildren.

Amy Nofziger with AARP’s fraud watch network said this is happening more and more.

"They might be targeting someone that they might think has more access to money," she said.

"And so then they're going to that grandchild's page or that child's page in that case and finding out information about them," Nofziger said.

She said if you ever get a call asking to pay ransom for a kidnapping victim, stay calm and listen for cues that you’re dealing with a scam, such as how they want you to pay.

"They're gonna ask for money in a prepaid gift card," Nofziger said. "They're going direct to the victim to go to a crypto atm machine."

Also, she said, try texting or calling your relative directly.

Brooke David can see how her dad fell for the call.

"You don't question it at first, you say this is my kid," she said.

To keep this from happening, she said to tell family members never to post details about upcoming travel dates or locations online.

The FBI also recommends families have a password to confirm a loved one is really in trouble.

"It's not just seniors and the elderly getting scammed here," Kevin David said. "These guys are good."

He's just glad he didn't fall for the scam, and that his daughter is safe safe.

That way you don't waste your money.