20,000 euros for a deepfake: the lucrative market for copies of faces on the darknet

Cybercriminals are willing to pay dearly for directly exploitable deepfakes or specialists to build tailor-made scams for them.

AI is already creating new jobs, but not the ones we expected. Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky reveals in a published report on May 9, 2023 that the demand for specialists in deepfakes is on the rise on all hacker forums. Criminals primarily seek to develop copies of faces to deceive victims or security systems. On many Russian platforms, cybercriminals are posting “urgent” deepfake search ads for various scams.

For example, requests relate to the creation or imitation of a face to bypass the facial recognition verification of the Binance platform. They could thus try to return to the account of a victim.

Also in the crypto space, a vendor offered a premium service for creating a quality deepfake of Etherium co-founder Vitaly Buterin with his voice and a fully synthesized video. The objective here would be to launch false investment campaigns, as has already been done in the past with dogecoin and Elon Musk. Here, the advertiser was asking for up to $20,000 for the creation of his deepfake.

A scam on the channel of an Indian Youtuber.  // Source: YouTube / Numerama
A scam on the channel of an Indian Youtuber. // Source: YouTube / Numerama

This method is very much in vogue, and crypto star impersonations are among the most common scams. All-in-hand scams are offered – just choose the star – sold for around 2,500 euros, with the promise of winning double behind.

“Better than the original” reads an ad for deepfake scams ready to roll out.  // Source: Kaspersky
“Better than the original” reads an ad for deepfake scams ready to roll out. // Source: Kaspersky

Deepfakes, low-cost tools

Simple voice transformation is also offered and can lead to big losses. In 2019, fraudsters created a convincing audio imitation of the voice of the CEO of a British energy group. They tricked a senior company executive into transferring €220,000 to an alleged Hungarian supplier.

The proliferation of deepfakes is linked to the emergence of tools based on artificial intelligence. The more a program learns and works on human faces, the more it will be able to reproduce them. More and more software is also provided through very affordable subscriptions today. And, these scams are only part of the vast dangers of deepfakes. Disinformation and pornography are other abuses to take into account.

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Source: Numerama by www.numerama.com.

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