Company worker loses $25m to deepfake scam


POLICE in Hong Kong have said a clerk working for a multinational company transferred $25 million of the firm’s money to fraudsters after being tricked into joining a deepfake video conference call.

Hong Kong’s public broadcaster, RTHK, reported that the employee was a clerk working for an unnamed multinational firm quoting an acting senior superintendent, Baron Chan, as saying that the fraudster used deepfake created with artificial intelligence to dupe the worker.

According to the report, the clerk was the only real person on the video chat while the rest of the attendees looked and sounded like her colleagues adding that they were characters created by the scammers based on genuine online conferences held in the past.

“Police received a report from a staff member of a company on 29th January, 2024 that her company was deceived of some HK$200m after she received video conference calls from someone posing as senior officers of the company requesting to transfer money to designated bank accounts,” the police said in a statement.

READ : X bans searches for Taylor Swift amidst circulation of her explicit AI photo

The force added that after an initial investigation, the case had been classified as “obtaining property by deception” and was being handled by its cybercrime unit. No arrests have been made so far as  investigations are still ongoing.

“[The fraudster] invited the informant [clerk] to a video conference that would have many participants. Because the people in the video conference looked like the real people, the informant … made 15 transactions as instructed to five local bank accounts, which came to a total of HK$200m,” he said.

“I believe the fraudster downloaded videos in advance and then used artificial intelligence to add fake voices to use in the video conference.”

RTHK added that the worker received a message from the company’s chief financial officer that talked of the need for confidential transactions. It was only after going on the call and sending the money that the employee spoke to the company’s head office and realised it was a scam, reported RTHK.

READ ALSO : Five AI tools used in generating disinformation visuals

“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.

AI-generated deepfakes are proliferating online, with social media platform X being forced to suspend Taylor Swift-related searches recently after fake sexually explicit images of the pop singer flooded its site. FactCheckHub, in this report, highlighted some deep fakes, AI-generated content to watch out for in 2024.


+ posts

Nurudeen Akewushola is a fact-checker with FactCheckHub. He has authored several fact checks which have contributed to the fight against information disorder. You can reach him via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 via Twitter.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Read

Recent Checks