Finance worker pays out $25 million after video call with deepfake ‘chief financial officer’



CNN
 — 

A finance worker at a multinational firm was tricked into paying out $25 million to fraudsters using deepfake technology to pose as the company’s chief financial officer in a video conference call, according to Hong Kong police.

The elaborate scam saw the worker duped into attending a video call with what he thought were several other members of staff, but all of whom were in fact deepfake recreations, Hong Kong police said at a briefing on Friday.

“(In the) multi-person video conference, it turns out that everyone [he saw] was fake,” senior superintendent Baron Chan Shun-ching told the city’s public broadcaster RTHK.

Chan said the worker had grown suspicious after he received a message that was purportedly from the company’s UK-based chief financial officer. Initially, the worker suspected it was a phishing email, as it talked of the need for a secret transaction to be carried out.

However, the worker put aside his early doubts after the video call because other people in attendance had looked and sounded just like colleagues he recognized, Chan said.

Believing everyone else on the call was real, the worker agreed to remit a total of $200 million Hong Kong dollars – about $25.6 million, the police officer added.

The case is one of several recent episodes in which fraudsters are believed to have used deepfake technology to modify publicly available video and other footage to cheat people out of money.

At the press briefing Friday, Hong Kong police said they had made six arrests in connection with such scams.

Chan said that eight stolen Hong Kong identity cards – all of which had been reported as lost by their owners – were used to make 90 loan applications and 54 bank account registrations between July and September last year.

On at least 20 occasions, AI deepfakes had been used to trick facial recognition programs by imitating the people pictured on the identity cards, according to police.

The scam involving the fake CFO was only discovered when the employee later checked with the corporation’s head office.

Hong Kong police did not reveal the name or details of the company or the worker.

Authorities across the world are growing increasingly concerned at the sophistication of deepfake technology and the nefarious uses it can be put to.

At the end of January, pornographic, AI-generated images of the American pop star Taylor Swift spread across social media, underscoring the damaging potential posed by artificial intelligence technology.

The photos – which show the singer in sexually suggestive and explicit positions – were viewed tens of millions of times before being removed from social platforms.

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