A shocking incident occurred where a group of fraudsters used deepfake technology to deceive an employee at a Hong Kong-based multinational company into transferring a massive sum of $25.57 million to their bank accounts. According to the Hong Kong Police, the fraudsters employed sophisticated deepfake technology to perpetrate the scam.
The fraudsters initiated the scam by luring the employee into a fake conference call, during which they instructed the employee to carry out confidential financial transactions amounting to HK$200 million (equivalent to $25.57 million) to specific bank accounts. Subsequently, the employee complied with the fake CFO’s directives and executed 15 separate payments to five local bank accounts over the following week. It was only after consulting with the company’s main office that the employee realized the call had been part of an elaborate scam.
Hong Kong police’s acting senior superintendent of the cybersecurity division, Baron Chan, shed light on the modus operandi of the scammers. According to Chan, the fraudster likely pre-downloaded videos and utilized artificial intelligence to create fake voices for use in the video conference, thereby deceiving the employee. Furthermore, the fraudsters initially made contact with the employee via third-party messaging services, posing as the company’s chief financial officer. The subsequent video conference call was instrumental in convincing the employee of the authenticity of the scam.
The Hong Kong police have categorically labeled the case as obtaining property by deception and have assigned it to the Regional Technology Financial Crime Unit, Kowloon West, for further investigation. It has been confirmed that no arrests have been made thus far, and the investigation is ongoing.
This incident has raised significant concerns among law enforcement agencies and cybersecurity experts, as it underscores the evolving nature of cyber fraud and the utilization of advanced technologies such as deepfake to perpetrate financial scams. Notably, Hong Kong police had previously issued warnings in August 2023 after detecting the first-ever use of deepfakes to deceive financial institutions. The latest case has rekindled the urgency to address the growing threat posed by deepfake technology in the realm of financial fraud, prompting authorities to urge the public to exercise vigilance and caution, particularly in online meetings and financial transactions.
The company’s experience serves as a stark reminder of the need for enhanced cybersecurity measures, including robust authentication protocols and employee training to identify and thwart potential scams, particularly those fueled by emerging technologies like deepfake. As the investigation into the Hong Kong fraud continues, it further underscores the imperative for organizations and law enforcement agencies to collaborate in combating increasingly sophisticated cyber threats. The prevalence of deepfake technology in financial scams underscores the urgency of developing and implementing comprehensive strategies to mitigate the risks posed by such advanced forms of deception in the digital age.