British engineering giant Arup victim of £20m deepfake scam

Credit: PA

A British design and engineering firm, behind buildings such as the Sydney Opera House, has confirmed that it was targeted in a deepfake scam that led to one employee paying out £20 million to fraudsters.

A spokesperson for Arup, told ITV News' US partner CNN, that it notified Hong Kong police in January about the fraud incident, and confirmed that fake voices and images were used.

“Unfortunately, we can’t go into details at this stage as the incident is still the subject of an ongoing investigation.

“However, we can confirm that fake voices and images were used,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

“Our financial stability and business operations were not affected and none of our internal systems were compromised,” the person added.

Police in Hong Kong said that during the scam a finance worker was tricked into attending a video call with people he believed were the chief financial officer and other members of staff, all of whom were deepfaked recreations.

The employee initially thought he had been sent a phishing email, but upon attending a video call with people who looked and sounded like his colleagues, he agreed to transfer 200 million Hong Kong dollars (£20 million).

The money was sent across 15 different transactions.

Experts 'uncertain' over future of AI

General purpose artificial intelligence (AI) could boost wellbeing, prosperity and scientific research in the future, but could also be used to power widespread disinformation and fraud, disrupt jobs and reinforce inequality, a new report says.

The study is the first iteration of the International Scientific Report on Advanced AI Safety, first announced at the UK-led AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park in November, and was carried out by AI experts from 30 countries - including the UK, US and China - as well as the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU).

The report identified three main categories of risk around AI: malicious use, risks from malfunctions, and systemic risks.

Malicious use could involve large-scale scams and fraud, deepfakes, misinformation, assisting in cyber attacks or the development of biological weapons, the report suggests.

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