February 24, 2024

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Finance employee paid $25 million after video call with deep-rooted 'CFO'

Finance employee paid $25 million after video call with deep-rooted 'CFO'

Bonchai Widmakwand/Moment RF/Getty Images

Authorities are increasingly concerned about the harmful potential posed by artificial intelligence technology.


A finance employee at a multinational company was tricked into paying $25 million to fraudsters using deepfake technology to pretend to be the company's CFO in a video conference call, according to Hong Kong police.

The complex scam saw the worker tricked into attending a video call with who he thought were several other employees, but all of whom were actually deep fake recreations, Hong Kong police said in a press conference on Friday.

“(In) a multi-person video conference, it turns out that everyone [he saw] “It was fake,” chief superintendent Baron Chan Shun Cheng told the city's public broadcaster.

Chan said the worker became suspicious after he received a message purporting to be from the company's UK-based CFO. Initially, the worker suspected it was a phishing email, as it talked about the need to carry out a confidential transaction.

However, Chan said the worker put his early doubts aside after the video call because other people in attendance looked exactly like colleagues he recognized.

Del de la Rey/AFP

The famous Hong Kong skyline.

The police officer added that believing everyone else on the call was real, the operator agreed to transfer a total of HK$200 million – about $25.6 million.

The case is one of several recent episodes in which scammers are believed to have used deepfake technology to alter publicly available videos and other footage to trick people out of their money.

At a press conference on Friday, Hong Kong police said they had arrested six people in connection with such scams.

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Chan said eight stolen Hong Kong identity cards – all of which were reported missing by their owners – were used to submit 90 loan applications and register 54 bank accounts between July and September last year.

On at least 20 occasions, AI deepfakes have been used to fool facial recognition software by imitating people in ID photos, according to police.

The fraud involving the fake CFO was only discovered when the employee later visited the company's head office.

Hong Kong Police did not reveal the name or details of the company or worker.

Authorities around the world are increasingly concerned about the complexity of deepfake technology and the nefarious uses it can be put to.

At the end of January, artificial intelligence-generated pornographic images of the American pop star appeared Taylor Swift It spread across social media, highlighting the harmful potential of AI technology.

The photos – which show the singer in sexually suggestive and explicit poses – were viewed tens of millions of times before they were removed from social media platforms.