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Multinational Employee Loses $25 Million in CFO

Multinational Employee Loses $25 Million in CFO DeepFake Scam

Author: admin | 09 Feb 2024

In a Hong Kong multinational company, a finance worker was duped into wiring $25 million in company funds to scammers using deepfake technology. According to Hong Kong police, the imposter posed as the firm’s London-based CFO in a video conference call. The video call was a meticulously crafted deepfake using AI technology to manipulate voice and facial expressions to impersonate the CEO convincingly. 

“(In the) multi-person video conference, it turns out that everyone [he saw] was fake,” senior superintendent Baron Chan Shun-ching told the city’s public broadcaster RTHK. Furthermore, Chan said, “The worker had grown suspicious after he received a message that was purportedly from the company’s UK-based chief financial officer. Initially, the worker suspected it was a phishing email, as it talked of the need for a secret transaction to be carried out. However, because other people in attendance had looked and sounded just like colleagues he recognized”. 

“Because the people in the video conference looked like real people, the informant [clerk]...made 15 transactions as instructed to five local bank accounts, which came to a total of HK$200 million,” acting senior superintendent Baron Chan told reporters at a press conference on Friday.

In the business community, this incident has sent shockwaves, highlighting the rising number of cyber attacks. Furthermore, the high-quality deepfake technology was used in video calls, making it hard to differentiate from an original video call.  

Out of several recent scam episodes, imposters used advanced deepfake technology, in this case, to transform publicly available images or videos to manipulate people for illegal activities.

Hong Kong police said in a press interview on Friday that they had arrested six suspects in this case. Chan said that Police have found 8 stolen government ID cards in this scam, and all owners have reported them as stolen. Last year, 54 bank account registrations and 90 loan applications were made against them between July and September. Police haven’t disclosed the employee’s name throughout the case. 

After realising the intensity of the situation the firm quickly contacted cybersecurity professionals and law enforcement agencies to thoroughly investigate the incident. The $25 million loss has critically impacted the firm’s financial stability, facing a potential ripple impact on employee salaries, their operations, and investor confidence. 

This sophistication level is raising concern amongst cybersecurity professionals, demonstrating the potential abilities of scammers to manipulate advanced technologies for their illegal activities. However, this case highlights the importance of implementing advanced technologies such as Facia- a pioneer in the face recognition industry that quickly analyses deepfake and phishing attempts in one second. They also provide robust cybersecurity protocols such as employee training and multi-factor authentication, providing advanced threat detection systems. 

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