Fake video scam; Ex-Karnataka MLA’s son threatened by the scammers

Fake video scam

For the past few years, fake scams against reputed individuals are coming up. The main target of these scams is to loot money. First, the scammers will have a detailed study of the target, his behaviour, his likes and his social media records. From these informations they build up a scam to blackmail them and attain ransom. One of the common techniques used for this purpose is morphing or deep fake technology. Scammers extract pictures from your social media and use applications like deep fake to morph your face into any pornographic content and threaten you to spread this in public platforms.

Recently, Karnataka’s ex-MLA’s son Naveen was threatened by the scammers. First he got a video call from an unknown number, but the video screen was blacked out and after a few seconds the call got disconnected. After a while, a video came into his Whatsapp which had pornographic contents and the actor’s face was replaced with his face. This made him feel terrible. This incident happened in the Hubballi district of Karnataka. The scammers demanded a large amount of ransom and got transferred using a payment app over an alleged sleaze chip.

According to the police, the scammers first called Naveen through video call which was blank and lasted for few seconds. A few minutes later, a 13 second video came to his Whatsapp which had his morphed images. This image was either captured from the last call or stolen from his social media account. The video felt so original and real. Soon the next message came from the scammers demanding money. If not, he threatened Naveen to make the video viral through social media and other platforms.

Due to the fear of losing his value and reputation, he transferred Rs.13, 200 to the scammer through the number provided by them. As soon as this incident happened, Naveen reached out for the cyber cell and explained what happened and filed an FIR. Through the contact number provided, the police traced the account and freezed them.

Naveen said that after he has approached the police, the scammers sent this video to three of his contacts. This affected him badly. He also expressed that he paid the amount in 3 stages. First he paid Rs.5000, again Rs.5000 and finally 3200. He has shared the details of the transaction to the cyber cell.

By the help of bank officials, the police came to know that the account was operated from Rajasthan. After he has complained about the incident, no further video calls or text messages came up.

A few weeks back, similar incident was reported in Dharwad. A businessman from Dharwad received a video call in which a nude women spoke to him for some seconds. Soon after the call ended, he received the video recording in Whatsapp. The women used this video to blackmail him and loot money. Instead of being feared and paying the ransom, he directly reported the issue to the cyber cell and lodged a complaint.

Since this pattern of attack is increasing these days, police force has decided to create a special team headed by the cyber-crime inspector to bring down the scammers.

Fake videos or deep fake

Usually these kinds of fake videos are made through deep fake technology. On a majority scale, deep fake videos are used for political purpose or a tool for personal vengeance. They are also a source of blackmail or fraud.

To test the deep fake app, a security researcher used the footage of Barack Obama and fused with his own impression in order to show the world how this tricked worked and how can two models be merged in a single video.

Once the CEO of British energy was faked by a scammer using this technique. He lost around 243,000 dollars. He was tricked by using the face of the CEO of his parenting company and has requested emergency fund transfer. Believing it to be legitimate, he transferred the money without giving it a second thought.

How to protect from fake video scams

For the protection of the people, the US government has passed two bills that made deep fake illegal.

According to section AB-602, using others images for pornographic content without their consent is an offence.

Fortunately, there are security companies coming up with applications that are used to detect fake videos and images. These apps can detect tiny distortions.

To detect a fake video, look out for the following:

  • Unnatural movements
  • Variations in lightings
  • Variations in skin tone
  • Poor sync
  • Digital artefacts

To prevent them,

  1. Train your employees about deep fake technology and the after affects it can cause.
  2. Educate others to spot fake videos.
  3. Have a good basic protocol.

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