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  • Voltaire Staff

Over 100 deepfake videos of UK PM Rishi Sunak on social media seeking money, report reveals

More than 100 deepfake videos of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have been used to promote a false investment project of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, a marketing consultancy group has claimed in a report.

The study came from Fenimore Harper, a communications company set up by Marcus Beard, a former Downing Street official.

Several users on Facebook shared a video that appears to show BBC news presenter Sarah Campbell talking about UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promoting a new investment project by Tesla CEO Elon Musk where she states that with the project, "Musk aims to initiate a global fight against poverty, and the first country where the application is supposed to operate is Britain."

The clip then cuts to Sunak standing on a podium, where he says, "I and my surroundings have been earning through this application for several months" and goes on to appeal to people to invest in the scheme, with a threshold amount of 200 GBP.

The video then offers a link which leads to a fake BBC News page promoting investment opportunities in an app.

The video carries the untrue claim that Elon Musk has launched an application capable of "collecting" stock market transactions and follows with a faked clip of Sunak saying the government had decided to test the application rather than risking the money of ordinary people.

The research found that 143 different adverts using Rishi Sunak deep fake likeness were shown to over 400,000 people on Facebook. Luckily, of this 400,000, the adverts were shown to "less than 0.5 per cent of UK users."

The report said that a sum of up to £12,929 has been spent on these ads since December 8 last year, with their funding coming from 23 different countries including Turkey, Malaysia, the Philippines and the United States.

It said, "With the advent of cheap, easy-to-use voice and face cloning, it takes very little knowledge and expertise to use a person’s likeness for malicious purposes."

The UK Prime Minister might announce a general election this year, which may lead to more fake videos of important political figures spreading false information. Hackers and government-supported groups might use these to sway people's vote and impact the election results.

Beard said, "Unfortunately, this problem is exacerbated by lax moderation policies on paid advertising. These adverts are against several of Facebook’s advertising policies. However, very few of the ads we encountered appear to have been removed."


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