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Deepfake scam: Company loses around Rs 207 crore after employee connected to a video call

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multinational company based in Hong Kong has incurred a colossal loss of $25 million (around Rs 207 crore) due to a sophisticated deepfake scam. According to reports, scammers utilized advanced deepfake technology to deceive an unsuspecting employee at the Hong Kong branch.

The elaborate scheme unfolded in January when an employee in the company's finance department received a message purporting to be from the company's UK-based chief financial officer, as reported by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) and Business Insider. Subsequently, the employee engaged in a video call with the alleged CFO and other company employees, only to discover later that all participants were skillfully crafted deepfake personas.

During the manipulated video call, the employee received instructions that led to the transfer of HK$200 million (equivalent to $25.6 million/ Rs 207 crore) across 15 transactions to various Hong Kong bank accounts, as outlined by SCMP. The fraudulent activity remained undetected until a week into the scam when the deceived employee, sensing something fishy contacted the company's headquarters.

The Hong Kong police, refraining from disclosing specific company and employee details, disclosed that the scammers generated deepfakes of meeting participants using video and audio footage that were available online. Remarkably, the victimized employee did not recognize the artificial nature of the deepfakes during the video conference.

Investigations are currently underway, but as of now, no arrests have been made, highlighting the challenges authorities face in combating such technologically advanced cybercrimes.

The incident underscores the growing threat of deepfake technology in perpetrating financial fraud and corporate deception. Beyond financial scams, deepfake videos have become a global concern, as highlighted by the recent wave of sexually explicit deepfake videos involving international pop sensation Taylor Swift circulating on platforms like X and Telegram.

Just recently, prominent personalities such as Alia Bhatt, Katrina Kaif, Rashmika Mandanna and more have become the victim of deepkfakes that raised a lot of security as well as privacy concerns in the country. The latest one to fall in this was Akshay Kumar who expressed disappointment as a deepfake of him promoting a game app circulated online. He also took legal action and filed a cyber complaint against the unauthorized use of his identity. It now remains to be seen how the issue of deepfakes will be countered globally to prevent it from happening.

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