Scammers use AI copies of colleagues to convince Hong Kong worker into transferring funds
A finance worker was tricked into paying £20m to scammers by a “deepfake” video call featuring AI copies of his co-workers, police in Hong Kong have said.
The employee transferred the money to the criminals after they used artificial intelligence software to imitate the worker’s superiors, including his UK-based chief financial officer.
Everybody on the video call apart from the victim was a fake representation of a real person, police said.
The case is believed to be one of the largest financial scams to date featuring deepfake technology, in which AI is used to imitate real people.
The company and the individual affected have not been named.
Hong Kong police said they were making the case public because it was the first of its kind involving multiple fake people on a call.
“This time, in a multi-person video conference, it turns out that everyone you see is fake,” acting senior superintendent Baron Chan Shun-ching said, according to the South China Morning Post.
The employee, who transferred $HK 200m (£20.3m) in 15 transactions involving five bank accounts, was suspicious when he received an email purporting to be from his chief financial officer, police said.
However, he was convinced to send the money after apparently verifying the request on the video call.
Multiple people at the company were reportedly targeted by the scammers.
Deepfake technology has improved dramatically in recent years with advances in artificial intelligence technology. It allows scammers to assume a person’s likeness and imitate their voice over video with minutes or even seconds of video footage.
The victim only realised he had been scammed when he grew suspicious and contacted the company’s headquarters to verify that the transaction was genuine.
but typically in one-on-one communications, which are easier to create.
Fake audio, which is also easier to produce, was used in 2019 to trick a worker at an unnamed British energy company to pay £200,000 to a scammer impersonating their boss.
Deepfake videos involving imitations of Rishi Sunak have been used by Facebook scammers to run more than 100 adverts, according to researchers.
Last month, X, formerly known as Twitter, rushed to take down fake explicit images featuring the popstar Taylor Swift, after the images went viral on the service.
Microsoft later altered an AI tool used to make images after suggestions the pictures may have been made using the software.