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SCAM SPOT: Deepfakes getting Aussies in deep trouble

10:00am October 26 2023

On our latest episode of Scam Spot, Westpac's head of fraud and financial crime insights Ben Young shares tips on how to spot a deepfake. (Thomas Evans)

Deepfakes are highly convincing manipulated images, audio and video, which are increasingly being used by scammers to dupe their victims out of money.

The intersection of machine learning and video editing software has reduced the cost and complexity of creating these deepfakes. The technology used to make the deepfake video in our latest Scam Spot was free and took just a few hours to produce. It may not be perfect, but to an unsuspecting target it can still seem pretty complling, and the tech is improving all the time. 

Deepfakes are already being used to conduct scams on social media - often through videos of celebrities announcing a giveaway or promotion, which ultimately leads to some form of scam.

The technology can also be easily applied in other scenarios and one of the most common scams we see is scammers impersonating real financial companies offering fake products.

They simply impersonate a brand that you may want to buy from, but redirect your payments to accounts that they can access.

If you or someone you know is making any financial investment, regardless of how simple it might be, it is crucial to know exactly who you are dealing with. 

AI technologies can make this more difficult, but it’s not yet a perfect science. Here are a few tips to help you spot a deepfake.

1. When watching videos, look for inconsistencies in eye movements and people’s smiles. Teeth are one of the hardest areas to get right with a deepfake, and will often show as one large tooth rather than individual ones.

2. If listening to audio, pay attention to an individual’s cadence – what they emphasise, and when they pause. Often, generated voices will stress words incorrectly, and can read at an inconsistent speed.

3. If you suspect that someone has spoofed a voice that you know, attempt to get in contact via another method, or ask a personal question that only they would know.

4. When looking at images, check for distortions around hands and fingers, and overly blurred or airbrushed faces. These are tell-tale signs of fake generated content.

AI-based technology is moving very fast and opening opportunities to everyone, even the bad guys. Taking some time to make sure you are talking to who you think you are, could save you a whole world of trouble.

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, a global initiative to raise awareness about cybersecurity, so everyone is empowered to protect themselves online. In Australia, this initiative is led by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) and Westpac is a proud supporter. 

For more info, visit Westpac's Latest Scams and Alerts page.

Ben Young is Westpac’s Head of Fraud and Financial Crime Insights. Ben’s team researches and operates Westpac’s key fraud protection processes for the ~25 million transactions processed each day by the bank, particularly around credit cards, internet banking, branch and applications for credit. Ben has been intimately involved in Westpac’s fraud processes since 2007 and has worked in various data led risk processes since 1997.

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