Video call scam uses face-swapping technology

Wang Qingchu
A business owner was swindled out of 3.4 million yuan via a video call that appeared to be from a friend.
Wang Qingchu

A man was swindled out of 3.4 million yuan (US$482,372) by a scammer who used AI technology to generate a face-swap video during a video phone call, and police are warning about the new scheme.

The business owner, surnamed Guo, in Fuzhou, southeast China's Fujian Province, received a video call on April 20 that appeared to be from a friend. The friend asked Guo to wire 3.4 million yuan to another friend who needed the money to be wired from a corporate account due to a bidding process, police said in a statement recently.

As Guo's friend did not have a corporate account, he claimed he had transferred the money to Guo's account and asked Guo to transfer the money to his so-called friend using Guo's corporate account.

He even showed Guo a screenshot of the bank transfer record.

Without suspicion, Guo did not check his bank account to see whether the money had been transferred, but directly wired 3.4 million yuan to the so-called friend.

It turned out that a fraudster had hacked the account of Guo's friend and used AI to swap Guo's friend's face for his own during the video call.

Around 3.37 million yuan was intercepted by police who are trying to recover the rest.

Police have warned people to be highly alert to any requests involving money transfers and offered a tip to help detect fake videos: People in face-swap videos seldom blink as the videos are usually generated with photos of the person with their eyes wide open.

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