Deepfake scammers managed to trick an employee at a multinational firm into sending out more than $25 million of company funds in an elaborate scam that impersonated multiple company executives in an online video meeting.
In a statement seen on Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), Acting Senior Superintendent Baron Chan of the police force’s Cyber Security Division said the incident started last month when the employee received a fake message from the firm’s chief financial officer inviting them to a video call to discuss a confidential transaction.
The scammers used several deepfaked company executives to convince the employee to send $25.5 million of the firm’s funds across 15 transactions to five bank accounts.
Chan said he believes the scammers took previous footage of the company’s executives to create the deepfake impersonations.
“I believe the fraudster downloaded videos in advance and then used artificial intelligence to add fake voices to use in the video conference,” said Chan. “The people in the video conference looked like the real people,” he stressed.
The employee only realized the scam after consulting the company’s head office.
The police involved said it was the first case of its kind in Hong Kong amid a steep rise in deepfake scams in the region.
“We want to alert the public to these new deception tactics,” Chan stressed.
“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.”
The Cyber Security Division is part of the Hong Kong police force. It is tasked with combating technology crime and ensuring citizens remain safe online. Last year, part of this effort involved the launch of a metaverse platform in May to prepare its citizens for “challenges ahead in the digital age,” with a focus on technology crime prevention.
Deepfakes have also recently caught the attention of United States lawmakers following the widespread circulation of fake photos of Taylor Swift. United States Representative Joe Morelle, in particular, wants to criminalize the production of deep fake images in the country.