Hong Kong: Deepfake Video Tricks Finance Worker Into Paying $25M to Fraudsters

AI turns everyone into a Hollywood producer.


It finally happened!

I’ve been waiting for like a year for this.


A finance worker at a multinational firm was tricked into paying out $25 million to fraudsters using deepfake technology to pose as the company’s chief financial officer in a video conference call, according to Hong Kong police.

The elaborate scam saw the worker duped into attending a video call with what he thought were several other members of staff, but all of whom were in fact deepfake recreations, Hong Kong police said at a briefing on Friday.

“(In the) multi-person video conference, it turns out that everyone [he saw] was fake,” senior superintendent Baron Chan Shun-ching told the city’s public broadcaster RTHK.

“Everyone he saw was fake.”

Remember that.

This is the dawn of a new age.

Chan said the worker had grown suspicious after he received a message that was purportedly from the company’s UK-based chief financial officer. Initially, the worker suspected it was a phishing email, as it talked of the need for a secret transaction to be carried out.

However, the worker put aside his early doubts after the video call because other people in attendance had looked and sounded just like colleagues he recognized, Chan said.

Believing everyone else on the call was real, the worker agreed to remit a total of $200 million Hong Kong dollars – about $25.6 million, the police officer added.

The case is one of several recent episodes in which fraudsters are believed to have used deepfake technology to modify publicly available video and other footage to cheat people out of money.

At the press briefing Friday, Hong Kong police said they had made six arrests in connection with such scams.

This has yet to happen in the West.

Chinese are a lot more savvy than most white people at this point. (It’s unfortunate to have to admit that, but the data is all there.) Their criminals are a step ahead. But this will start happening in the West any time now.

The situation, just to clarify: you go on a Zoom video call, and you see your co-workers, but they’re not actually your co-workers, but criminals.

Go ahead and apply that to every other situation.

What could someone do by calling pretending to be your mother? Etc.

We are at the point now where literally everything can be faked, which means that it will be faked, which means that you simply cannot believe anything you are seeing on a screen.

In retrospect, this should have been obvious a long time ago. What we had was this brief period where digital imagery could reflect reality, and now that period is over, and we are back to where we always were at every other point in history: you can only trust your own eyes and the people whose eyes you choose to trust. But in order to trust someone else’s eyes, you have to meet with them in person, because if you just see them on a screen, it could be totally fake.

Of course, encryption still exists, and you still have keys to your accounts, so you can still make sure your personal digital communications are sound. This Hong Kong guy apparently did not do that. Or, it’s possible, the criminals catfished one of the other employees for their login to start the call. Probably, however, it was an insecure channel, and he just assumed it was fine because he was seeing the faces of people he knew.

It’s a new age. The whole world is opening back up again. Digital reality no longer means anything. The government and other interests can just totally fake events now. They were already faking events, frankly. You think about something like the Syrian gas attack, where they used actors to stage the event and then posted it on the internet. Most people still believe that is real, despite statements from the UN inspector involved and several journalists who visited the site claiming that no gassing occurred. It’s pretty easy to explain “no, actually, that video was just professional actors.” It’s not hard to understand. But many people believed it.

Some percentage of people will just prefer to live in a manic fantasy of manufactured reality. But a lot of people are going to say that everything on the screens is bullshit. If you don’t have any way of proving something is true, then it might as well be fake.

Horrible things are going to happen. But we are also going to have to go back to hard reality. That’s a very good thing.

Elvis Dunderhoff contributed to this article.