Deepfake Technology Gives Fake CEO Scammers a Scary New Tool

Posted By:
Kreller Group
May 12, 2019

We were recently made aware of a new twist on a common scam and want to be sure our readers are aware of it.

For the past several years business email compromise scams have been on the rise. These scams involve a scammer using research and social engineering, and often spoofed email addresses (where they look like they're sending from a different email address), to convince an employee of a company to initiate a wire transfer to the scammer. In many cases the scammers will try to impersonate the CEO or another authority in the business. They will then try to create a sense of urgency in the victim to hopefully make them act quickly without thinking too much. The FBI has been warning about the rise of these scams for some time.

A scary new tool has emerged in the scammer’s toolkit. Using machine learning technology similar to that used to create so called "deepfake" videos, a scammer is suspected of having used technology to fake the voice and speech pattern of a CEO to make a phone call to an employee of a German company who was fooled into wiring approximately $243,000 to a scammer before the plot was uncovered.

Fake phone calls from CEO's to lower level employees is not a new technique in these scams, though they were harder to successfully pull off. In the past these sorts of calls often relied on an actor trying to imitate the voice of a CEO, or simply operated on the assumption that a lower level employee might not know what the CEO sounds like. But using technology to imitate the voice of a CEO makes these phone calls much more likely to work. Even those who know a requester well might not be able to tell that it isn’t their voice on the other end of the phone.

About the Kreller Group

For nearly 30 years, Kreller has relied on “extensive boots-on-the-ground” research, conducted by investigators who are well-versed in worldwide military, law enforcement, business and government matters to deliver the concise information our clients need to make decisions.


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