A finance worker at a multinational firm fell victim to a new scam where deepfake technology was used to impersonate the company’s chief financial officer.
The scam, revealed by Hong Kong police during a briefing, resulted in the fraudulent transfer of $25 million.
The worker believed they were attending a legitimate video conference with fellow staff members, but it turned out that all participants were deepfake replicas.
In our multi-person video conference, we discovered that everyone I saw was actually fake,” shared senior superintendent Baron Chan Shun-ching with the city’s public broadcaster RTHK.
Chan explained that a worker became suspicious after receiving a message supposedly from the company’s UK-based chief financial officer. The message discussed the necessity of conducting a secret transaction, initially raising concerns of a phishing attempt.
Despite the worker’s initial doubts about the legitimacy of the email, those doubts were temporarily dismissed after participating in the video call. This was because the individuals in the call appeared and sounded exactly like recognized colleagues, as noted by Chan.
A worker, thinking everyone else on the call was legitimate, ended up agreeing to transfer $200 million Hong Kong dollars, equivalent to about $25.6 million USD, as confirmed by a police officer.
This incident is part of a series of recent cases where fraudsters are suspected of employing deepfake technology to alter publicly available videos and other media to deceive individuals into parting with their money.
During a press briefing on Friday, Hong Kong police disclosed that they had apprehended six individuals in connection with these fraudulent schemes.
According to Chan, who spoke during the briefing, eight Hong Kong identity cards, all previously reported as lost by their rightful owners, were utilized to facilitate 90 loan applications and 54 bank account registrations between July and September of the previous year.
AI deepfakes have been employed over 20 times to deceive facial recognition systems by mimicking individuals depicted on their identification cards, as per law enforcement reports.
The ruse featuring the counterfeit CFO came to light only after the employee reached out to the company’s headquarters for verification.
Hong Kong police opted not to disclose the identity or specifics of the company or individual involved.
Concern among global authorities is mounting as they observe the advancing sophistication of deepfake technology and its potential for malicious exploitation.