Scammers use deepfakes to steal $25.6 million from a multinational firm

Scammers use deepfakes to steal .6 million from a multinational firm

Bad actors keep using deepfakes for everything from impersonating celebrities to scamming people out of money. The latest instance is out of Hong Kong, where a finance worker for an undisclosed multinational company was tricked into remitting $200 million Hong Kong dollars ($25.6 million).

According to Hong Kong police, scammers contacted the employee posing as the company’s United Kingdom-based chief financial officer. He was initially suspicious, as the email called for secret transactions, but that’s where the deepfakes came in. The worker attended a video call with the “CFO” and other recognizable members of the company. In reality, each “person” he interacted with was a deepfake — likely created using public video clips of the actual individuals.

The deepfakes asked the employee to introduce himself and then quickly instructed him to make 15 transfers comprising the $25.6 million to five local bank accounts. They created a sense of urgency for the task, and then the call abruptly ended. A week later, the employee checked up on the request within the company, discovering the truth.

Hong Kong police have arrested six people so far in connection with the scam. The individuals involved stole eight identification cards and had filed 54 bank account registrations and 90 loan applications in 2023. They had also used deepfakes to trick facial recognition software in at least 20 cases.

The widespread use of deepfakes is one of the growing concerns of evolving AI technology. In January, Taylor Swift and President Joe Biden were among those whose identities were forged with deepfakes. In Swift’s case, it was nonconsensual pornographic images of her and a financial scam targeting potential Le Creuset shoppers. President Biden’s voice could be heard in some robocalls to New Hampshire constituents, imploring them not to vote in their state’s primary.

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