USD 622,000 deepfake impersonation scam

Occurred: April 2023

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A legal advisor at a technology company in Fuzhou, China, has been defrauded of RMB 4.3 million (USD 622,000) after receiving a video call from a 'friend' who turned out to be a fraudster using AI face-swapping technology. 

According to local police, the fraudster stole an individual’s WeChat account and used AI to create a deepfake of the person's face. The fraudster made a video call to a businessman who was an existing contact on the individual’s WeChat app and told the businessman they needed to make a deposit during a bidding process. The businessman subsequently transferred RMB 4.3 million to the fake friend’s bank account without verifying their true identity. 

The police have since helped intercept some of the stolen funds. However, reports suggest approximately RMB 1 million is yet to be recovered. The scam is reckoned to be largest of its kind to date.

Operator: Tencent/WeChat
Developer: Unclear/unknown
Country: China
Sector: Private
Purpose: Defraud
Technology: Deepfake - video, audio; Generative adversarial network (GAN); Neural network; Deep learning; Machine learning
Issue: Security
Transparency: Governance; Marketing