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Employee Scammed of $25 Million in Deepfake Fraud

Deepfake scammers employed AI to impersonate company executives, swindling an employee of a multinational firm out of $25 million during an online meeting. Authorities issue a warning about the rising threat of deepfake scams.

In a disturbing turn of events, a multinational firm fell victim to deepfake scammers who managed to deceive an employee into transferring more than $25 million of the company's funds. This elaborate ruse involved the impersonation of multiple high-ranking company executives during an online video meeting.

The Elaborate Deception

The scheme commenced when the unsuspecting employee received a message, purportedly from the firm's chief financial officer. The message invited them to participate in a video call to discuss a confidential transaction. What the employee did not realize was that the individuals in the meeting were not real; they were deepfake representations of company executives.

Deepfake Technology at Play

Acting Senior Superintendent Baron Chan, heading the police force’s Cyber Security Division in Hong Kong, shed light on the intricacies of the scam. He believes that the scammers meticulously gathered previous video footage of the company's executives. With the aid of artificial intelligence (AI), they superimposed these faces onto the online video conference, creating a convincing façade.

Baron Chan of the Hong Kong police force discussing the deepfake incident. Source: RTHK

The Shocking Outcome

During this manipulated video call, the scammers managed to persuade the employee to execute a series of transactions, resulting in the transfer of $25.5 million across 15 transactions to five different bank accounts. The gravity of the situation only became apparent to the victim after consulting with the company's head office.

Alarming Rise in Deepfake Scams

This incident has underscored the growing menace of deepfake scams and prompted law enforcement to issue a warning to the public regarding these deceptive tactics. Even in meetings involving numerous participants, individuals are urged to remain vigilant.

Hong Kong's Cyber Security Division

The Cyber Security Division, an integral part of the Hong Kong police force, is committed to combating technology-related crimes and ensuring the online safety of citizens. Their efforts extend to launching a metaverse platform, designed to prepare citizens for the challenges of the digital age, with a particular emphasis on preventing technology-related crimes.

U.S. Lawmakers' Response

Deepfake scams have captured the attention of lawmakers in the United States as well. Following the circulation of manipulated images of celebrities like Taylor Swift, there are discussions about enacting legislation to criminalize the creation of deceptive deepfake content.