June 16, 2024

In a shocking revelation, global engineering firm Arup admitted that a Hong Kong employee was deceived into sending HK$200 million (equivalent to US$25.6 million) to fraudsters via a deepfake video call. This event corroborates the story disclosed by Hong Kong law enforcement in February about an unidentified company worker who was victimized by a fraudulent video call.

Image: smolaw11, AdobeStock

The scammers, posing as “senior company executives” on what seemed to be a legitimate company video conference, manipulated the unsuspecting employee into performing several transactions to designated bank accounts.

Arup disclosed to Construction Briefing, “We reported a fraud incident in Hong Kong to the police in January. However, given the ongoing investigation, we cannot share additional details at this time. Our financial stability and business operations remain unaffected, and no internal systems were breached.”

Arup’s global chief information officer, Rob Greig, explained, “Like several global businesses, we are subject to regular attacks, including invoice fraud, phishing scams, WhatsApp voice spoofing, and deepfakes. We have observed a drastic rise in the number and sophistication of these attacks recently.
This is a matter that affects the industry, business and society. Hopefully, our experience will heighten awareness of the increasing sophistication and continuous evolution of nefarious methods employed by malefactors.”

## FAQ

### What is a deepfake video call?

A deepfake video call involves the use of artificial intelligence to create a video that appears to be of a real person saying or doing things they didn’t actually say or do. Deepfakes are often used to manipulate people into taking actions they wouldn’t normally take or revealing confidential information.

### How can individuals and businesses protect themselves from deepfake scams?

It’s important to verify the identity of the person you’re communicating with, especially when asked to transfer funds or share sensitive information. This could involve independently contacting the person on a known and trusted number or email address. Companies should also invest in cybersecurity measures and train employees to maintain vigilance.

### What is Arup doing in response to the deepfake scam incident?

Arup has reported the issue to the police and it’s currently under investigation. Notably, the incident did not hinder Arup’s financial stability or business operations, and none of its internal systems were compromised. The company is taking necessary measures to raise awareness of the increasing sophistication and evolving tactics of fraudsters.