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Technology has come to enable the ability for anyone to deepfake. This is the alteration of media like images, sound, and video, that look like they’ve been created through photography or recording, but, in reality, are computer-generated.
With power comes responsibility, though, and this shows in a sobering heist which was possible only due to this same technology.
Forbes reports that a bank in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was the victim of this new scam. Criminals had deepfaked the voice of a company executive to trick the bank’s manager to unknowingly transfer funds worth US$35 million straight to the criminals in early 2020.
The AI-replicated voice, supposedly bearing likeness to the executive’s, told the bank manager in a phone call that his company intended to make an acquisition and needed the money to proceed. Because the manager and (real) executive had worked together before, the voice seemed to check out. So off the money went, landing into the thieves’ bank accounts.
This huge sum of money was split and transferred into accounts in various countries, including US$400,000 that went to American banks, revealed by court documents. The UAE is currently working with American forces to investigate this, hence US-based documents.
It’s reported that the heist involved at least 17 people alongside the technology used to create this eerily realistic, yet false, voice.