Lifetime’s My Life is on the Line: Is it Based on a True Story?

With Geena Hernandez at the helm, ‘My Life is on the Line’ introduces us to Shannon, a dedicated bank customer service representative, who finds herself in a nightmare scenario after bending the rules to transfer a large sum of money for a seemingly desperate client on a customer service call. What begins as a simple act of kindness quickly spirals into a career-ending possibility as Shannon discovers the true identity of the mysterious caller and the sinister motives behind his actions. Trapped within the confines of the call center, Shannon’s desperate attempts to rectify her mistake are met with escalating threats from the caller, who cunningly uses intimate details gleaned from their conversations to torment her.

Originally titled, ‘The Caller,’ the Lifetime thriller paints a harrowing picture that originates from a seemingly benign act. As Shannon is trapped with the caller in a game of wits, the stakes grow higher and tensions escalate, staking her life on a final gambit. With the story revolving around a fraudulent call and personal attacks, the movie generates interest in researching similar real-life incidents that have taken place.

My Life Is on the Line Chronicles an Alarming Vishing Attack

While the story of ‘My Life Is on the Line’ is fictional, it brings to attention an ever-growing problem of scam calls and voice phishing attacks. A report by Kaspersky has indicated that between 2022 and 2023, phishing attacks have increased by 40% to 709 million. As seen in the Lifetime movie, vishing always adapts a tone of urgency and immediacy, with the caller usually impersonating someone you may be inclined to help or cooperate with. This form of scam is extremely potent as it can put extreme pressure on targeted individuals to steal their personal information, data, bank details, and funds. Similar to Shannon’s story, there are several real-life cases of vishing targeting employees.

In 2020, fraudsters used AI to clone the voice of a Japanese company’s director. A branch manager of the company received a phone call from someone who sounded exactly like the director of his parent business. The caller informed him that there was good news about an acquisition and that a fund transfer of $35 million was needed immediately. To support his claims, emails from who appeared to be the director and the deal’s lawyer, Martin Zelner, were received in his inbox. With everything appearing legitimate, the branch manager began making the transfers, which actually went into the fraudsters’ US-based accounts and then distributed around the world. This incident was one of the first in many similar ones that manipulated deep fake technology for vishing.

While the evolution of technology is making these scams more dangerous, the key to their success relies on manipulating the very thing that makes us human: our emotions. Shannon was a smart and well-informed employee who knew the dangers of phishing but fell into the trap of assisting the caller because of his seemingly genuine pleas for help. This was the case with Richard Werner, a Portuguese cybersecurity advisor at Trend Micro who fell victim to a vishing campaign.

Werner received an automated call that there was a warrant out for his arrest. Alarmed, he was contacted by an officer with the Portuguese GNR (National Republican Guard), Marco, who told him that his identity had been used in money laundering and drug trafficking and proceeded to ask him personal questions that Werner dutifully answered. He was then directed to Dobra, who claimed to work for the International Court of Justice, and informed him that his bank accounts would be closed in 45 minutes and that she could help him by transferring his funds to a secure digital vault.

Despite his logic raising alarm bells, Werner was overcome with fear and did everything Dobra asked him to do to “save his money,” including downloading apps, sharing his screen, and transferring funds. Any questions he asked or resistance he showed were met with increasingly vehement threats that made him burst into tears. After the dust settled, Werner had transferred nearly €5,000 ($5,370) in funds and cryptocurrency to the fraudsters. When he realized his blunder, Werner was able to get his bank to cancel the transfers, resulting in him losing €1,000 worth of bitcoin.

‘My Life Is on the Line’ presents a dramatized tale of a bank employee being subjected to a harrowing vishing scam. Yet the story draws several parallels with real-life techniques and manipulations used by scam callers who use everything from technology to emotions in fooling, isolating, and draining their victims.

Read More: Is Lifetime’s A Deadly Threat to My Family Based on a True Story?