Deepfake Scammers Steal $25 Million

( – Scammers stole $25 million after using a hoax with deepfake technology to pose as the chief financial officer of a company during a video conference call.

Deepfakes are when artificial intelligence is used to create convincing images, audio and video that are fake. The algorithms used in deepfakes can generate lifelike people and animals, imitate an individual’s likeness, or manipulate images of real people doing or saying things they haven’t done or said in reality.

According to Hong Kong police, scammers tricked the finance worker into attending the conference call Feb. 2, with whom he thought were his colleagues but were really deepfake recreations.

Senior superintendent Baron Chan Shun-ching stated the worker became suspicious after receiving an email that claimed to be from the company’s chief financial officer requesting a secret transaction be completed. The worker originally suspected the email was a phishing email. However, he felt confident the email was legitimate after the video call because the other people on the call appeared to be colleagues he recognized. Since he believed the people on the call to be his colleagues, the worker agreed to remit a total of $25.6 million, according to the police. In total, the worker made 15 transfers to five different Hong Kong bank accounts over the course of a week.

The scam was discovered after the employee verified the request for the transaction with the company’s head office.

The police stated that the incident underscores that “people must be vigilant even in meetings with lots of participants.”

The police said the incident is one of many that have used deepfake technology, with police adding they have made six arrests associated with the scams. Between July and September 2023, deepfake technology was used in 90 loan applications and 54 bank account registrations that scammers completed using eight stolen Hong Kong identity cards. Deepfakes had been used to trick facial recognition programs in more than 20 cases by imitating the people pictured on the identity cards, according to police.

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