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They pretended to be bosses: $26 million was stolen thanks to excessive counterfeiting

They pretended to be bosses: $26 million was stolen thanks to excessive counterfeiting

Hong Kong police said Sunday that fraudsters stole about $26 million from a multinational company using fake technology to pretend to be the company's top executives, in one of the first cases of its kind in the city.

A fake is a video or audio recording that has been made or modified using artificial intelligence. It carries the potential for misinformation and abuse, for example deepfakes showing people saying things they never said.

The police said that a company employee in a Chinese financial center received “group video calls from a person who pretended to be a senior manager in his company asking him to transfer money to specific bank accounts.”

Police received a report on the incident on January 29, by which time about HK$200 million (US$26 million) had been lost through 15 transfers.

The police said, without revealing the name of the company, that “investigations are still ongoing and no one has been arrested yet.”

The victim worked in the finance department and the scammers pretended to be the company's CFO in the UK, according to Hong Kong media.

Baron Chan, a senior police official, said the video conference involved several participants, but all of them except the victim were “fake.”

“Scammers found publicly available videos and audio recordings via YouTube, then used hyper-faking technology to imitate their voices… to trick the victim into following their instructions,” Chan told reporters.

He added that the fake videos were pre-recorded and did not include any dialogue or interaction with the victim.