Deepfake or synthetic media is now threatening businesses, individuals, and governments. Simply put, deepfake is the use of deep learning artificial intelligence to replace the likeness of one individual with another in a digital media item like video, image, voice etc. Deepfakes synthesizes photos, videos, and images of people. Scammers are now taking advantage of the deep fake technology to fraud and discredit unsuspecting individuals.
According to a study conducted by Sentinel, there were 145,000 deep fakes in 2020. People have found themselves in videos they never created. Companies have authorized financial transactions that they never planned.
In 2019, fraudsters defrauded a U.K based energy firm $243,000. Scammers used AI software to mimic the CEO’s voice to authorize the transaction. The CEO thought he was on call with his boss based in Germany, who asked him to transfer the money to a supplier based in Hungary. It was urgent.
Fraud expert at Euler Hermes, Rudiger Kirsch, said that the U.K based CEO recognized the slight German accent in his boss’s voice. Kirsch noted that the fraudsters called the CEO three times. After a successful transfer, the criminals called to say that the German parent company had sent money to refund the U.K firm. Another call was made later that day requesting another transfer. The U.K CEO became skeptical when the scammers made the third call from an Austrian phone number. To the CEO’s suspicion, he didn’t make another transfer. The $243,000 transferred to a Hungarian account was immediately transferred to a Mexican account and several other accounts in different locations.
In another case, criminals defrauded a UAE company of $35 million in 2020. A bank branch manager received a deep fake call from the director to authorize the transfer of the money stated to accounts in other countries. The bank branch manager authorized the transfer because the cloned audio sounded precisely like the voice of the firm’s director.
In February 2022, a woman’s Instagram account was hacked. The private account has 470 followers. The scammers sent the below message to all her followers about cryptocurrency investment.
“Hi guys, I just invested $1000 and got $10,000 back into my bank account straight away,” the fake video clip of the woman says. The sound, clothes, and appearance in the video were exactly that of the mentioned woman. The body movements and verbal cues that she uses in her everyday life were mimicked in the video.
In July 2020, the Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Kim Kardashian, among other public figures, were hacked. The hackers offered $2000 for anyone who would send $1000 to an anonymous crypto account. Unfortunately, this didn’t go far, for people realized it is a mimic
The number of deep fakes is on the rise. This rise is attributed to the affordability of the tools. The tools are also mainstream and easy to use. The creation of deep fakes does not require much of your effort. According to Jevin West, associate professor in the Information School at the University of Washington, you can create a deep fake cheaply and in a short time.
Deepfakes consequences have been dire. Women have found themselves on pornographic sites. Traumatic videos and images of child abuse have been created. Companies have been swindled, and government officials have been discredited.
Companies can use AI to detect and flag deep fakes. Governments need to make laws to regulate deep fakes and how they affect people. Media literacy is also a very cost-efficient way to combat deep fakes. When internet users can detect a deep fake, the chances of falling victim become less.