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AI Adding New Fraud, Scam Challenges for Police

Joan Lawcewicz, a financial crimes investigator in Chippewa Falls, Wis., said that artificial intelligence has made this type of scam even more problematic and easier to fool the unsuspecting public.

(TNS) — One of the more common phone scams involves an elderly person taking a call from what sounds like an upset grandchild, saying they need money wired to them. The elderly person is tricked into sending the money, only to later learn that the person on the phone wasn’t their family member.

Joan Lawcewicz, Chippewa Falls financial crimes investigator, said that artificial intelligence has made this type of scam even more problematic and easier to fool the unsuspecting public.

“They can change the voices, the pictures,” Lawcewicz said of scam artists using artificial intelligence technology.

If a person receives a call like that, Lawcewicz has good advice for what to do next.

“Obviously, call your loved one,” she said. “They put you on a time limit, get you going. They are master manipulators. If there is any sense of rushing for any reason, it’s probably a scam.”

Lawcewicz has been the department’s financial crimes investigator for about a year. She spoke Tuesday at the Chippewa Falls YMCA before a dozen people who were mostly senior citizens. She showed some well done altered photographs of herself, saying she created them at an internet crimes against children conference she recently attended. She warned about the variety of scams that are out there, from text messages or internet pop-ups or websites that look authentic but have a slightly different URL.

“They happen so easily, and it can happen to anyone,” she said of scams. “A lot (of the scams) are overseas, but a lot are local, too.”

Among her suggestions is to make sure to protect your Social Security number, even when someone asks for just the last four numbers.

“You can do a lot with the last four digits of a Social Security number. I wouldn’t give it,” Lawcewicz said. “AT&T doesn’t care about your Social Security number; they just don’t.”

Lawcewicz also warned about the quality of counterfeit bills, noting that one obvious sign something is wrong is if the cut of the bill isn’t exactly centered. She said there are quality fakes out there.

“A pen test worked, but the money counter recognized it was a fraud,” she said.

Other advice Lawcewicz gave includes:

• Shredding bills, bank statements and receipts.

• Protecting your mail.

• Signing up for the Do Not Call Registry.

• Keeping a list of all financial accounts.

• Stopping pre-approved credit card offers.

• Using two-factor authentication, if offered.

• Checking your credit reports regularly.

Lawcewicz brought Chip, the department’s 10-month-old therapy dog, to the forum as well. Lawcewicz is the dog’s handler. Chip’s role often involves making people relaxed, particularly when interviewing victims of sexual or physical assault.

“He doesn’t apprehend people; he apprehends people’s hearts,” Lawcewicz said.

© 2024 the Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wis.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.