TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — The Better Business Bureau has issued a warning of a scam that pushes people to make rash decisions, especially when the scammers are using artificial intelligence (AI).

The BBB said in a news release that emergency scams, sometimes known as “grandparent scams,” rely on targeting a person’s desire to help family or friends in need. Now, through AI, scammers are cloning the voices of a person’s loved ones to make the scam more effective.

The scams often involve the impersonation of someone’s loved ones, a false urgent situation, and a plea for help, according to the BBB. Through social media, scammers look up information about their potential victims and create believable stories to make the scams more convincing.

The scams can be sent via emails, calls or social media messages from someone claiming to be a friend or family member in distress, according to the BBB. One version of this scam, the “grandparent scam,” involves a scammer contacting a grandparent while claiming to be their grandchild. This is followed by a request for money. The scam also functions the other way, where a false grandparent contacts a child or grandchild and asks for help.

The Federal Trade Commission announced earlier this year that scammers are using voice cloning techniques to imitate people’s voices. New technology has given scammers the ability to copy someone’s voice by taking audio recordings from videos posted to social media and other sources.

The BBB encourages people to follow these tips to avoid getting scammed:

  • Resist the urge to act immediately
  • Know what your family members are sharing online
  • Don’t wire any money if there is any doubt about the call

You can report scams to the BBB Scam Tracker online. Additionally, if you think you have been the victim of identity theft or scams, contact the Kansas Office of the Attorney General for help.