Cybercriminals in Europe have managed to steal about a quarter of a million dollars from an energy company that is based in the UK. They did so by relying on the AI-generated voice, deepfake, of the firm’s German parent company’s CEO to authorize the money transfer.
This is the first reported case of its kind. Cybercriminals made use of the AI-generated voice, deepfake, of a German CEO in order to convince the CEO of a UK-based subsidiary company to make a transfer of about a quarter of million dollars. The transfer was fraudulent of course, as the Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend. The $243,000 transfer was touted as a payment to a Hungarian supplier and the UK CEO, under the impression, that he was speaking with this German boss; made the transfer as per the request. The companies involved have not been identified.
The AI used for the creation of the audio was deepfake and was convincing enough as per the report. Since it was convincing, the UK CEO actually believed that he was speaking with his boss and was fooled by a very sophisticated mimicry relying on deepfake that not only managed to get the accent right but also the melody of his voice. After the transfer, the funds were moved to Mexico and some other countries, thus rendering any efforts of tracking them futile. No suspects have been identified as of yet.
A total of three phone calls were made by the cybercriminals using deepfake. The very first call was to place a request of $243,000 while telling the UK CEO that the money would be reimbursed by the parent company within an hour. The second phone call was to inform the UK CEO that the reimbursement had been sent and the third phone call was to request another transfer from the UK company. No reimbursement had been made, and the third phone call was from an Austrian number. This led the UK CEO to become suspicious, and the second transfer wasn’t put through.