June 25, 2024

Investigations have begun by the Hong Kong police, following an expensive deepfake trick that robbed the engineering consultant firm, Arup, of HK$200m (US$25m).

Arup acknowledged their loss to The Guardian last week after local police informed the media about the crime in February.

As explained by police superintendent Baron Chan, the Arup employee was duped into a video conference by a message masking as being from the company’s CFO. It was for discussing supposed confidential transactions.

Fabricated representations of colleagues, designed from former video conferences, were presented in the video call as stated by the police.

The targeted employee followed instructions, transferring the money across five local bank accounts in 15 separate transactions.

The ordeal only came to light after a conversation with the central office.

Rob Greig, Arup’s global chief information officer, revealed to The Guardian last week that Arup has recurrently been under attack, including through deepfakes.

The number and complexity of such attacks have been growing drastically in recent times according to Greig. He hopes that Arup’s incident will serve as a warning about the impending risk.

Arup’s official declaration mentioned that the scam left their business operations and financial stability unhindered, and their internal systems uncompromised.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a deepfake scam?

A deepfake scam involves creating synthetic media, usually through artificial intelligence, to deceive or trick individuals. This can include creating false images or videos of people using past footage or photographs.

How much money was lost in the Arup deepfake scam?

Arup reported a loss of HK$200 million or $25 million in the deepfake scam.

What has happened as a result of the Arup deepfake scam?

Following the scam, the Hong Kong police has initiated an investigation into the matter. In addition, Arup’s incident has raised awareness about the prevalence and severity of deepfake scams.