In previous blogs we’ve discussed how artificial intelligence can fake a colleague or loved one’s voice within a phishing attack designed to extort money from unsuspecting victims. But to many this still sounds like science fiction – something that may be possible technologically, but would require such planning to execute that its unlikely anyone would actually try it.

I mean, rather than go through all that trouble, why not just get a real job, and make your money honestly?

Well, this just in from Hong Kong – real jobs don’t pay as well as a well-executed deepfake.

Scammers set up a video conference with an employee at a Hong Kong-based multinational company. When the employee logged in she saw the other participants including the Chief Financial Officer – but none of them were actually there. Instead, the scammers used video and audio of the company’s top executives, found on YouTube among other sources, and then used AI to impersonate their voices.

During that meeting, the only actual employee of the company in attendance was instructed to make a series of financial transactions to five local bank accounts, totaling $200 million in Hong Kong dollars.

Emails and instant messages, as well as additional video calls - all fake -were dispatched to confirm the transactions. The scheme was not discovered for several days. By that time the money was gone and the thieves left no trace of their activity. As of last month police were still trying to identify who did this.

They May Not Get $200 Million From You – But They Could Get $2,000 – or $20,000

Not every phishing scam unfolds on such an elaborate scale. All a scammer needs is few seconds of audio from someone you love, captured from a social media platform, to put that person’s voice on a phone call to you, begging for help. Such moments of panic have led to countless successful scams, and they will only become more prevalent in the future.

Privacy = Safety

We cannot stress this enough - every phishing scheme, ransomware hack, and identity theft scam is made possible by information – and too often, it’s information that we freely share about our families and ourselves. But there is a way to enjoy social media and other online activities while limiting your exposure to thieves and scammers.

Our online privacy protection program, IronWall360, scans the Internet for any sites where someone’s home address, phone number, and other private data are accessible. We then contact that site to make sure that content is removed. And we don’t take “no” for an answer.

Does it work? Our renewal rate in our program is over 90%. Yes, it works. Find out more about why this service is needed more than ever, and why we’re the top choice for public servants in our space.

Ron Zayas


Ron Zayas is an online privacy expert, speaker, author, and CEO of 360Civic, a provider of online protection to law enforcement, judicial officers, and social workers. For more insight into onli... Read more

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