Feb 14, 2024 434

Deepfake scammer walks off with $25 million in first-of-its-kind AI heist


Hong Kong firm reportedly tricked by simulation of multiple people in video chat.

A multinational company's Hong Kong office suffered a substantial financial loss of HK$200 million (US$25.6 million) due to a sophisticated scam utilizing deepfake technology, as reported by the South China Morning Post on Sunday. The scam involved digitally recreated versions of company executives appearing in a video conference call, instructing an employee to transfer funds. The identity of the victimized company has not been disclosed, as the Hong Kong police continue their investigation.

This incident marks the first major deepfake-related scam in Hong Kong, where scammers convincingly replicated the appearances and voices of company executives in a multi-person video conference call. The police are currently investigating the case, with no arrests made yet. The scam was discovered after an employee in the finance department received a phishing message, purportedly from the company’s CFO, instructing them to execute a secret transaction. Despite initial doubts, the employee was convinced by the deepfake-enabled video call and transferred HK$200 million to multiple bank accounts.

The incident highlights the rising threat of AI-driven deepfake technology, which presents challenges for individuals and organizations in distinguishing genuine from fabricated content. To mitigate such risks, the Hong Kong police recommend verification measures during video calls, such as requesting movement or identity-confirming questions. Additionally, they plan to expand their alert system to include warnings for transactions linked to known scams, covering a wider range of electronic and in-person transactions.