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Police warn of AI fraud after man duped by 'friend'

By Yang Zekun | | Updated: 2023-05-22 19:19
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Police are looking to educate the public about a new type of fraud that uses artificial intelligence to mimic faces and voices.

The public security bureau of Baotou, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, is striving to raise awareness after recently handling such a case in which the victim was tricked into transferring a total of 4.3 million yuan ($612,000) via a company account after having a video chat with someone pretending to be his friend.

With the cooperation of the bank, police were able to halt a transfer of 3.37 million yuan, but said they are still trying to recover 931,600 yuan that had already been sent.

On April 20, a man surnamed Guo, a legal representative of a technology company in Fuzhou, Fujian province, received a video call via WeChat from a friend asking him for help.

Guo's "friend" said that he was bidding on a project in another city and wanted to use Guo's company's account to submit a bid of 4.3 million yuan. He promised to pay Guo back immediately.

The fake friend then sent a bank account number to Guo and then provided a screenshot of the bank transfer voucher to prove that the money had been transferred to Guo's company's account.

Guo then transferred 4.3 million yuan to the provided account in two separate payments.

When Guo called his real friend for verification after completing the transfers, his friend denied that he had made a video call to Guo or had asked him to transfer any money.

Guo realized that he was deceived by a fraudster and called Fuzhou police immediately. After discovering that the fake friend's account was with Mengshang Bank in Baotou, Fuzhou police soon contacted Baotou police to stop the payment.

With assistance from the bank, Baotou police successfully stop a transfer of about 3.37 million yuan from going into the fraudster's account. Fuzhou police also provided Baotou police with information about the remaining 931,600 yuan, which had already been transferred.

Baotou police said they are working to recover the stolen money.

"The person on the other side didn't ask me to lend him money during the chat. He said that he would transfer the money first, and then what I needed to do was transfer his money to his company's account," Guo said.

"He chatted with me via video call, and I also confirmed his face and voice in the video. That's why we let our guard down," he added.

The police warned the public about this new type of AI fraud. People are urged to be careful about sharing their personal biological information such as facial images and fingerprints and about disclosing identification and banking information too easily.

The public was also reminded to check the identity of the other party through various communication channels such as through phone calls before transferring funds. Police added that people should report suspected fraud as soon as possible.

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