Celebrity Deepfake Videos Used by Scammers to Steal Millions

Deepfake concept matching facial movements. Face swapping or impersonation.

The use of artificial intelligence has advanced proficiently in only a short amount of time. From AI chatbots such as Chat GPT to mega-corporations like Apple and Meta implementing artificial intelligence into their products and services, there is no telling how far AI can advance in the future. One aspect of AI however that has caused more harm than good recently is the use of deepfakes. Deepfakes are the process of AI taking images and placing them over other forms of media, which seem 100% real to many viewers. Deepfakes can place the face of former President Barack Obama onto a character in an episode of Seinfeld, where a good deepfake can make the artificial change seem very real. 

Deepfakes have found themselves in the hands of real-life scammers and con artists, creating false media like fake celebrity videos to extort fans. The trend has been recently popular in Australia, where some Australians have lost up to $8 million in false online investment platforms. The scam artists have recently used deepfake videos of celebrities personally asking fans for money, which seemed believable. In one example reported by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, scammers created a deepfake video of the late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin’s son Robert Irwin getting arrested, followed by a headline stating that the celebrity son did not know he was being filmed. The fake news article stated to readers that Robert Irwin had been sued by a bank company for speaking out against a cryptocurrency platform, where the article then promises to make the readers rich if they invest $375 into the said platform. 

However, this is not the only instance where deepfakes have been used to acquire ill-gotten gains. In May, the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission warned citizens about an alleged deepfake video scam involving Elon Musk. The FTC stated that most scams begin online, involving cryptocurrency so nothing illegal can be traced.