Fabricated Voice Used in Financial Fraud

This seems to be an identity theft first:

Criminals used artificial intelligence-based software to impersonate a chief executive’s voice and demand a fraudulent transfer of €220,000 ($243,000) in March in what cybercrime experts described as an unusual case of artificial intelligence being used in hacking.

Another news article.

Posted on September 12, 2019 at 6:04 AM15 Comments


Tatütata September 12, 2019 8:38 AM

Like most readers here, I don’t subscribe to the WSJ and had to circumvent a paywall…

From the content:

Mr. Kirsch believes hackers used commercial voice-generating software to carry out the attack.

My crude translation: the entire story is predicated on speculation. Why couldn’t it have been an impersonator? Morning show pranksters regularly take in public figures without resorting to AI and stuff.

All that tomfoolery would have been more difficult 15-20 years ago, when bank transfers on paper slips were still prevalent. Cooler heads might have had time to prevail if you had to walk all the way to the bank at the end of the working day…

Wire transfers within the Euro zone must be carried out overnight, but exceptions are allowed for other currencies. In this case, the “urgent” transfer had to be made from the UK (UKP) to Hungary (HUF). The funds probably wouldn’t have been available for at least 2-3 days. Didn’t anyone notice?

BTW, this week marks the end in Germany of transaction authentication numbers (“TAN-Verfahren”) for bank transactions. Customers were issued with a sheet of 100 six digit numbers, and had to enter one of these for each transactions. Various methods of phishing would induce users to provide unused numbers, which fraudsters would then employ to empty the victim’s bank account. Now special devices or apps (barf) are the norm. When you want to carry out a transaction, you take a picture of a pattern on your display, which is then transformed into a validation number. Your phone or special device also summarizes on its own display to confirm the transaction.

The idea of a machine impersonator goes back at least to Fritz Lang’s “Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse” (1933). At 1h46’15”, Kent and chief inspector Lohmann arrive at the psychiatric clinic and knock on prof. Baum’s door, only to be sternly warned by a gramophone that the Perfesser mustn’t be disturbed.

Thunderbird September 12, 2019 3:14 PM

What happened to requests being sent in writing? No bureaucrat would have fallen for this trick.

I didn’t read the paywalled article, so apologies if I have the wrong idea, but if the rainmaker calls and says “release the rain immediately,” most workers–at least ones that want to continue their employment–will spin the valve even without paperwork. The only way this wouldn’t work is if the organization had previously held the higher-ups rigidly to the rules, and that often isn’t the way it works.

Frank September 12, 2019 6:11 PM


It depends on the culture of the company, of course… I’ve worked for both kinds of companies… (where leaders are generally subject to the same rules as everyone else -vs- where leaders are generally considered above the rules). Also there can always be exceptional situations either way, but those generally will draw more scrutiny when outside the norm. It also depends on how much workers care, and how free they are to express themselves or disagree, and various things like that, which also depends on the culture of the company…

Petre Peter September 12, 2019 7:17 PM

People make mistakes. I wonder what would have happened if another AI was doing the verification on the other side. Machines representing humans scamming machines representing other humans.

s&b September 13, 2019 2:43 PM

France, Germany reject Facebook’s libra cryptocurrency


‘France and Germany jointly rejected Facebook’s planned introduction of the Libra cryptocurrency on Friday, calling it a threat to a stable EU economy.

The virtual currency could undercut “the monetary sovereignty” of states in the bloc as well as posing risks to consumers and undermining financial stability within Europe, said French Finance Minister Bruno le Maire and his German counterpart Olaf Scholz.

The two ministers issued the criticisms in a joint statement at a meeting of Eurozone finance ministers in Helsinki. It came in response to Facebook unveiling its plan for users to be able to make payments through the platform.

Libra fails to address risks

“France and Germany consider that the Libra project, as set out in Facebook’s blueprint, fails to convince that those risks will be properly addressed,” read the statement. The finance experts also agreed that the 19-country eurozone will pursue a tough regulatory approach should Libra seek authorization to operate in Europe.’

Think September 15, 2019 2:41 PM

Be it the voice of Voldemort or a voice of someone claiming to be from the future trying to ‘hoodwink’ you – it has to be a bad thing coming for you – you should feel it coming ahead of time.


A/I will will make all digital media recordings and live streams create the doubt that they are potentially faked or something that may cause reasonable doubt to their legitimacy.

A unique identifier will have to be woven into all live and recorded video and sound media – a key exchange that when combined with the uniqueness of the original recording device that creates it – creates a verifiable unique ID that is costly both in time and resources to fake.

I can imagine a world where only face to face communication is trust worthy. I hope I don’t live to see it.

A/I ethics will encompass all ethical dilemmas that we humans face plus one more – what will A/I eventually decide to do with us?

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