February 27, 2024. | Cybersecurity, Data security, Financial services, News

Finance worker duped into paying out over £20 million – is AI technology built for the ‘good guys’?

We’ve all been amazed by the deepfake technology that’s so easily accessible on social media. There are numerous videos out there with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s face in place of Whitney Houston’s for the ‘Wanna Dance with Somebody’ music video. And yes, they are funny.

However, when someone is conned out of 200 million Hong Kong dollars, everything seems a little less entertaining.

So, how did it happen?

A finance worker from an unnamed multinational company in Hong Kong thought that he was on a video conference call with several of his colleagues, when, in fact, each of the eight attendees was fake, according to Hong Kong police.

Senior superintendent, Baron Chan Shun-ching, says the employee was suspicious of the initial message that was said to be from the company’s UK-based CFO. The message asked that they help the supposed CFO with a clandestine transaction, which seemed like a phishing email from the outset.

But after each of the other colleagues appeared on the employee’s screen and acted and sounded like themselves, the finance worker was convinced of the legitimacy of the meeting. Following his worries being allayed he was persuaded by his ‘CFO’ to greenlight a remit of just over £20 million.

The mistake was only discovered when the employee contacted their corporation’s head office.

Other deepfake scams doing the rounds

There have been other cases using matching tech and the Hong Kong police have made several arrests concerning scams similar to this. Recently, there was a scam where 8 identity cards had been stolen and then used to make over 90 loan applications and open over 50 new bank accounts.

There have been other occasions of deepfake technology being used to scam people out of money, but also public videos being edited. There have also been over 20 incidents of people using AI deepfakes to trick facial recognition programmes.

But it’s not just the finance sector 

As mentioned above, celebrities have been embroiled in this technology from the start. One of the latest victims was Taylor Swift at the beginning of 2024.

AI technology helped to create explicit, pornographic images of the singer in compromising and suggestive positions. These fake, sexualised images of Ms Swift were viewed by millions of people before they were taken down.

Stay protected

Authorities are growing increasingly concerned by the impact this technology could have on the world and the consequences when this ‘useful tool’ is in the hands of someone with the wrong intentions.

The potential uses (criminal or otherwise) for this technology are still not fully understood or documented. Cybersecurity is catching up… but it’s not yet ahead of the game.

If you’re worried about deepfake technology and what it might do to your company data, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Penta. We want to keep your information protected and we are happy to talk to you about safe, secure solutions to suit you.

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