July 22, 2024

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CFO Cloned, 200 Crores Stolen: Hong Kong Company Falls Victim To Deepfake

The victim, a finance department employee, received a phishing message in mid-January.

New Delhi:

A multinational company in Hong Kong fell victim to a staggering  $25.6 million (over Rs 200 crore) scam orchestrated using sophisticated deepfake technology, a report said. Hong Kong police said that employees at the company were manipulated through a multi-person video conference, where every participant, except the victim, was created using deepfake.

A deepfake is a type of synthetic media that uses artificial intelligence to manipulate or generate visual and audio content, often with a malicious motive, to appear authentic.

According to the report, the perpetrators used deepfake technology to transform publicly available video and audio footage into lifelike versions of the company’s staff members, including a digitally cloned chief financial officer.

The victim, a finance department employee, received a phishing message in mid-January, purportedly from the company’s UK-based CFO, instructing them to conduct a secret transaction.

Despite an initial “moment of doubt,” the employee succumbed to the ruse after participating in a group video conference. During the call, the deepfake representations of company employees appeared authentic, leading the victim to follow instructions and make 15 transfers totaling $25 million to five different Hong Kong bank accounts.

How The Scam Unfolded

The entire episode took place over approximately one week, from the initial contact to the moment the victim realised it was a scam. According to the police, scammers digitally recreated the meeting’s participants using deepfake technology, imitating their voices and appearances with convincing accuracy.

During the video conference, scammers employed a scripted self-introduction and gave orders before abruptly ending the meeting. Following the initial contact, the scammers continued to engage with the victim through instant messaging platforms, emails, and one-on-one video calls.

While police are actively investigating the case, no arrests have been made thus far.

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