Montreal woman believes scammer used the sound of her son’s voice to trick her

In April, the FBI warned that scammers trying to pull off grandparent scams are using advanced voice cloning technology.


A Montreal woman who filed a complaint with Montreal police alleging she was also the victim of a Kirkland resident recently accused of running a grandparent scam wants other parents and grandparents to notice something.

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“The voice I heard on the other end of the phone was not someone trying to sound like my son. It was my son’s voice. I’m 100 percent convinced,” the woman told the Montreal Gazette.

Last week, Longueuil police announced they had arrested 37-year-old Ronnie Chbat on suspicion of an alleged grandparent scam. In a statement, they said a man called the victim pretending to be his grandson. He claimed that he needed $4,000 to post bail after a car accident involving drunk driving. The scammer also mentioned that someone would stop by the victim’s house to collect the money.

The Montreal woman said she was the victim of the same scam last week, except in her case the caller posed as her son. The person she called told her that she had been involved in a head-on collision and that the person in the other car was a pregnant woman who was injured. She was also instructed to turn over $4,000 to a man who, according to the caller, was her attorney.

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The woman, who asked that her name not be published, said she was duped and when a bearded man posing as a lawyer showed up at her home, she gave him $4,000. When she called her son the next day, she realized that she had been duped by a scam that she was well aware of.

He filed a complaint with the Montreal police, and last weekend a friend sent him a copy of an article about Chbat’s arrest in the Longueuil case. When she saw the mugshot of Chbat, the woman said she realized it was a photo of the man who allegedly took $4,000 from her.

The Longueuil Agglomeration Police Service released a statement on Facebook saying they arrested 37-year-old Ronnie Chbat on Wednesday.
The Longueuil Agglomeration Police Service released a statement on Facebook saying they arrested 37-year-old Ronnie Chbat on Wednesday. Police service of the Longueuil agglomeration

“I have no doubt it was him, no doubt,” the woman said, adding that she contacted Montreal police to update them on her complaint and say she recognized Chbat in the photo.

He also said he was struck by some outlets, including the Montreal Gazette, writing that a scammer is “pretending to be” the target’s son or grandson. She said that is not accurate in her case and she is convinced that the person she called managed to duplicate the sound of her son’s voice.

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“For me, it was his voice,” he said. “I didn’t suspect anything. (What the caller said) seemed logical and they played on my feelings,” she said. She said the person she called managed to reference details of her son’s personal life.

“To me, he had to know my son or he knew me to have the details he had. I completely fell in love with it.”

In April, the FBI warned that scammers trying to pull off grandparent scams are using advanced voice cloning technology. They said the scammers have used a sophisticated program used for cancer or ALS patients who have lost their voices. The same program is used in Hollywood movies to alter an actor’s voice, the FBI said.

In March, a couple told the Regina Leader-Post that they were told they were being scammed, likely by someone using voice-cloning technology.

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The Montreal woman said she has “no idea” how the scammer who called her managed to duplicate her son’s voice.

“My goal here is to inform other people about the voice, how was my son’s voice that I heard. Even after filing my complaint, I am convinced that it was my son’s voice. It was perfect. He was the, “ the woman said.

“To think that a guy in Kirkland could (supposedly) do this with a computer… makes no sense.”

The caller also said that he could not be reached via his cell phone because he was in custody and police had seized his phone as part of their investigation. That’s why, the woman said, she didn’t try to call her son for a day. When she made the call, her real son said that everything was fine and that he had not been arrested or involved in a car accident.

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“He said, ‘No mom, I didn’t call you yesterday and I didn’t have an accident,'” she said. “It was too excellent. (The caller) deserves an award. People have to understand, it was the same damn voice.”

One of the most frustrating things about being scammed, the woman said, is that she knew how grandparent scams are carried out.

“I remember seeing a story about a woman on the South Shore who was scammed by a grandparent scam. I judged her and wondered ‘how did you not realize she wasn’t your grandson?’” she said. “I never thought she could happen to me.”

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