Imagine joining a routine video call with colleagues, only to find out everyone on the other end is a meticulously crafted digital fake. Unfortunately, this nightmare scenario became a reality for a Hong Kong finance worker, leading to a staggering $25 million loss.
HONG KONG – A Hong Kong finance worker has become the victim of a sophisticated scam, tricked out of a staggering $25.6 million through a deepfake video call that impersonated his colleagues and the company’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
According to CNN, the employee took part in a video conference that appeared to be routine with his CFO and several other staff members. However, he was unaware that sophisticated deep-fake technology had orchestrated the entire call. The fraudsters had meticulously recreated the appearances and voices of the CFO and colleagues, manipulating the employees into believing they were genuine.
Under this ruse, the fake CFO issued fraudulent instructions, convincing the employee to authorize a series of transfers totaling $25 million to unknown bank accounts. Only later did the horrifying truth come to light, leaving the victim and his company reeling from the sophisticated scam.
According to Hong Kong police, the employee received seemingly legitimate emails from his CFO requesting a large wire transfer. However, he initially raised concerns about the legitimacy of the request. To alleviate his suspicions, the fraudsters staged a multi-person video conference where everyone he saw and heard, including the supposed CFO and colleagues, were actually deepfakes—highly realistic AI-generated simulations.
“In the multi-person video conference, it turns out that everyone [he saw] was fake,” confirmed Hong Kong Police official Baron Chan Shun-ching.
The employee, who shall not be named, overcame his initial skepticism and authorized the transfer. Only later, upon contacting the company’s head office, did he discover the elaborate scam.