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  • Voltaire Staff

Deepfake CFO scams company for $25 million in Hong Kong

A finance professional in Hong Kong, working for a multinational corporation, fell victim to a scam where fraudsters employed deepfake technology to create a convincing video conference call impersonating the company's London-based chief financial officer.

The scammers successfully duped the finance worker into transferring $25 million (HK$200 million) of company funds, as reported by Hong Kong police, reported The Register. 

The individual from Hong Kong participated in a video chat where the CFO seemed slightly off, raising initial suspicions. However, the employee's concerns were alleviated as other familiar colleagues appeared on the call, according to information from the Hong Kong police.

The imposter CFO escalated the urgency for money transfers, leading the victim to follow instructions during the call and execute 15 transfers into five local bank accounts.

AI-generated videos were crafted using authentic footage from previous online conferences, enhancing the scam's authenticity.

If that was not enough, the perpetrators used WhatsApp, email, and one-on-one video conferences with the Hong Kong staff members.

According to CNN, Baron Chan Shun-ching, the city’s police senior superintendent, said, "I believe the fraudster downloaded videos in advance and then used artificial intelligence to add fake voices to use in the video conference."

He added, "… it turns out that everyone was fake."

The details of what transpired during the pivotal call are subject to dispute. Some accounts propose that only one participant was genuine, while others contend that multiple participants were human.

Everyone agrees however on the involvement of AI-generated human representations. The victim only became aware of the scam after reaching out to the head office of the corporation, which remains unnamed.

Chan said that the employee became wary upon receiving a message allegedly from the UK-based chief financial officer of the company.

Initially, the worker thought it might be a phishing email, given its content discussing the necessity of executing a confidential transaction.

The CFO deepfake scam is the first of its kind.

In a recent press briefing, Hong Kong police announced six arrests in connection with other deepfake scams. They disclosed that AI-generated deepfakes had been employed at least 20 times to deceive facial recognition software.

Concerns over deepfake extend globally, as evidenced by a bipartisan bill introduced by US senators last week. The proposed legislation seeks to empower victims portrayed in non-consensual AI-generated pornographic deepfakes to pursue legal action against the creators of such videos.

Following the circulation of explicit AI-generated images of Taylor Swift, triggering millions of views on social media, a bipartisan US bill was introduced to empower victims in pursuing legal action against creators.

India faced a similar issue when a personally violating AI-generated video of actor Rashmika Mandanna emerged in November.



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