In a recent incident that underscores the growing threat posed by advanced artificial intelligence technologies, a finance employee at a multinational company was defrauded of approximately $25 million. The Hong Kong police revealed that the employee was deceived by fraudsters who used deepfake technology to impersonate the firm’s chief financial officer during a video conference call.
According to the Hong Kong authorities, the elaborate fraud involved a video call where the employee believed he was interacting with several colleagues. However, these individuals were, in reality, fabricated using deepfake technology.
The employee initially grew suspicious due to an email discussing a secret transaction. This email, allegedly from the company’s UK-based CFO, raised concerns of a phishing attempt. Nonetheless, the employee’s suspicions were allayed during the video call, as the deepfake participants appeared and sounded like his real colleagues.
Believing in the authenticity of the call, the employee proceeded to transfer a total of 200 million Hong Kong dollars, equivalent to about $25.6 million. The fraudulent activity was eventually uncovered when the employee verified the transaction with the company’s head office. The Hong Kong police have withheld the names and details of the company and the employee involved in this incident.
The Hong Kong police highlighted broader concerns with deepfake technology. They reported instances where AI-generated deepfakes were used to bypass facial recognition systems in at least 20 cases. These involved the misuse of eight stolen Hong Kong identity cards, which had been reported lost, to apply for loans and open bank accounts between July and September of the previous year.