In 2019, the chief executive of a UK energy company received a call from his German-based boss and did not hesitate to meet his request and quickly transfer €220,000 (about $243,000) to a Hungarian supplier. However, even though the executive recognized his boss’s German accent and the pattern of his voice, the caller wasn’t actually his boss. Instead, it was a fraudster using AI voice technology.
By the time the victim realized he was conned (after the scammer called back asking for another transfer), it was already too late — the money had been moved from the Hungarian bank and transferred to other locations. While voice fraud isn’t new, this is the first reported example of an audio deepfake scam, and although some doubt the veracity of this story, it highlights the potentially massive threat that deepfakes pose to businesses.
The rise of deepfakes
Whether they come in the form of images, videos, audio, or text, the number of “deepfakes” — synthetic media altered or created with the help of machine learning or artificial intelligence — has expanded at an alarming rate. According to Sensity, the number of deepfake videos online has nearly doubled every six months since 2018, and more than 85,000 deepfake videos have been detected as of December 2020. Considering that there’s been a significant rise in global searches for “deepfake” since the beginning of 2021, this number has likely grown even higher now…