RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A couple in Chatham County had $5,000 stolen in what is called the “Grandparent Scam” — just as thieves are rolling out a reverse twist on the “emergency” based ripoff, officials warn.

The scam –as it is typically known — involves a grandparent getting a text or call from a “distressed family member” — who is actually a fake and is just trying to get money.

The scammer claims they have been arrested or there was an accident, medical emergency, “or other calamity,” according to the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Carolinas.

The grandparent then wires money — or sends it using Zelle or Venmo — only to later learn the “endangered” grandchild was safe all along.

A Pittsboro victim recently filed a report about a ripoff involving the emergency scam.

“A young man called, sounding distraught, and said, ‘Grandpa?’ My husband said, ‘is this Justin?’ He said ‘yes,’ and continued to explain that he had been arrested after being in a car accident where he hit another woman who was pregnant,” according to the BBB.

The caller added various details which added a time-critical element to the fake story.

“He was charged with ‘reckless driving’ and was meeting with the judge soon. He gave us the number of his ‘attorney.’ We called this man and he said Justin needed $5,000 bail to get out of jail.”

Now the BBB reports the scam is being worked in reverse, where the “grandparent” calls their grandchild pleading for help.

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Scammers starting to use voice cloning techniques to copy the voices of loved ones from videos they may find on social media or other sources, the BBB warns.

“They can then use tools to imitate the voice of your loved one and have it appear to say whatever they wish in a call, adding to this scam’s confusing and frightening aspect,” BBB officials said.

Experts said if ever confronted with such an “emergency” to follow these steps:

  • Check out the story with other family and friends
  • Hang up or close the message and call your loved one directly
  • Don’t call the phone number provided by the caller or caller ID
  • Ask questions that would be hard for an impostor to answer