HK firm scammed of RM120mil after employee duped by video call with deepfake of CFO

The South China Morning Post said the case was the first of its kind in Hong Kong. - PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG: A multi-national company was scammed of HK$200 million (RM120 million / S$34 million) after an employee in Hong Kong attended a video conference call with deepfake recreations of the company’s chief financial officer and other employees.

The South China Morning Post reported on Feb 4 that the case was the first of its kind in Hong Kong, but local police did not name the company or its employees involved.

Hong Kong police senior superintendent Baron Chan said that aside from the employee that was duped, every colleague in the video call was “fake”.

The scammers had used publicly available footage to digitally recreate each individual.

The employee, who works in the finance department, had received a message in January – from someone who appeared to be the company’s Britain-based CFO – asking for a transaction to be made.

Although the employee was initially doubtful, Chan said the victim was fooled after being invited to the video conference call and seeing the company’s CFO and other “employees” in attendance.

The employee complied with instructions given during the meeting, and transferred around HK$200 million to five bank accounts, spread across 15 transactions.

The employee realised the deception only one week after receiving the initial message, after directly inquiring with the company’s headquarters.

Chan said that during the video call, the employee was asked to do a self-introduction, but did not interact with anyone else.

The “fake” colleagues gave orders to the victim, and the meeting ended abruptly after, added Chan.

The scammers had approached two or three employees of the company using the same scam tactic, said Chan, but did not give details of those encounters.

The police are investigating the case, but no arrests have made in connection to the case so far. - The Straits Times/ANN

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