Millions of Brits warned over AI 'video call' tricking employees into £20m deepfake scam

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Millions of Brits have been warned about fake AI video calls after a deepfake defrauded a company of £20m.

Employees at global engineering company Arup were tricked into sending money to criminals.

Employee fell victim to fake video call by criminal using AI to pretend to be someone from the companyCredit: Getty

Arup employs approximately 18,000 people around the world and provided engineering services for the construction of the Sydney Opera House, London's Crossrail and Barcelona's Sagrada Familia.

Thieves used artificial intelligence-generated video to trick employees into thinking they were on the phone with a senior executive within the company.

The Hong Kong-based employee transferred HK$200m (£20m) to the thieves after a digital clone of a senior manager asked the employee to send the cash.

Rob Greig, the company's global chief information officer, said the organization is under frequent attack, including from deepfakes.

“Like many other businesses around the world, our business is subject to regular attacks such as invoice fraud, phishing, WhatsApp voice spoofing and deepfakes,” he said.

“What we've seen is that the number and sophistication of these attacks has increased exponentially in recent months.”

Arup said in a statement that it had notified Hong Kong police earlier this year.

It added: “Our financial stability and business operations were not affected, and no internal systems were compromised.”

Hong Kong police said in a statement that an employee was “swindled out of approximately HK$200 million after receiving a video conference call from someone posing as a senior company official asking for money to be transferred to a designated bank account.” did.

No arrests have been made, but the investigation is ongoing and the case is classified as “obtaining property by deception.”

Creating deepfake porn becomes illegal after hundreds of celebrities are targeted

The incident highlights the threat that deepfake videos and AI can pose to Brits as criminals seek to steal money.

This comes after AI-generated sex images of singer Taylor Swift went viral on X/Twitter earlier this year.

This has led to a crackdown by the government, which is trying to make it illegal to create deepfake porn.

Anyone who creates sexually explicit false media without consent faces a criminal record and an unlimited fine.

Sharing deepfake porn without consent is already illegal and carries a prison sentence for offenders, but a new offense announced today will also make it a crime to create deepfake porn.

Deepfakes – What are deepfakes and how do they work?

Here's what you need to know…

  • Deepfakes are fake videos of people that look completely real
  • These are created using computers to generate convincing representations of events that never happened.
  • This often involves swapping one person's face with another or making them say whatever they want
  • The process begins by feeding the AI ​​hundreds, or even thousands, of photos of the victim.
  • The machine learning algorithm swaps out certain parts frame by frame until it spits out a realistic but fake photo or video.
  • In one famous deepfake clip, comedian Jordan Peele created a realistic video of Barack Obama in which a fake video of the former president called Donald Trump “Deepsh*t.”
  • In another piece, Will Smith's face is pasted onto the character Neo from the action movie The Matrix.Smith famously turned down the lead role in the failed movie Wild Wild West, but the role in The Matrix went to Keanu Reeves.
A deepfake is a fake video of someone that allows a computer to imitate that person by replacing their face with that of another person.Credit: Getty

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