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An employee of a global company gives fraudsters HK$200 million during a deepfake conference call.

Employee falls victim to deepfake video conference; sends P1.4 billion to scammers

By Rayven Daligcon Published Feb 06, 2024 4:39 pm

An employee from a multinational company in Hong Kong was tricked by deepfake technology that replicated its chief financial officer's digital likeness ordering a money transfer during a video conference call. 

The scammers used deepfake technology to create believable images of the intended victims that resembled real people in both appearance and voice.

Despite initial doubts about a suspicious message supposedly from the UK-based CFO requesting a confidential transaction, the employee was convinced of its legitimacy after participating in a video call with seemingly familiar colleagues.

Chan said, “Because the people in the video conference looked like real people, the clerk made 15 transactions as instructed to five local bank accounts, which came to a total of HK$200 million (P1.5 billion).”

“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. 

Following a preliminary investigation, the case has been classified as "obtaining property by deception," according to Hong Kong Police. The cybercrime section is handling the case, which is being tagged as the first of its kind in Hong Kong. 

“We can see from this case that fraudsters are able to use AI technology in online meetings, so people must be vigilant even in meetings with lots of participants,” said Chan.

The internet has been flooded with artificial intelligence (AI)-generated deepfake images, audio, and videos in recent months. Examples include fake sexually explicit images of Taylor Swift circulating on X, a voiceover spoofing US President Joe Biden, a deepfake video that purportedly promoted YouTuber MrBeast giving away iPhone units for US$2, an AI-generated Scarlett Johanson image used to promote Lisa AI: 90s Yearbook & Avatar, and many more.