Toronto man loses life savings to Justin Trudeau deepfake scam


Stephen Henry thought: 'This must be perfect. If not, how can you get the Prime Minister?'

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A Toronto man says he lost $12,000 after being duped by a deepfake cryptocurrency scam that used Justin Trudeau's image to endorse a fake investment platform.

The scam was promoted via a YouTube video and manipulated with AI and voice cloning technology to make it appear as if Trudeau was promoting a cryptocurrency exchange and an investment platform aimed at “Canadians Helping secure your financial future”.

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“I thought, 'This must be legitimate, this must be right. If not, how do you get a prime minister?' So I thought, 'This has got to be official,'” Stephen Henry told CTV.

Henry initially invested $250, but then continued to invest his savings, believing that the value of his investment had grown to more than $40,000.

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When Henry unsuccessfully tries to withdraw some of his money, he realizes he has been defrauded.

“Now, I have lost all my possibilities of living. That's all the money I had,” he said.

Henry is far from alone. Scams using images of politicians and celebrities to deceive individuals have increased as the quality and accessibility of deepfake technology has improved.

Taylor Swift, Pope Francis and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky are some examples of individuals whose likenesses have been included in deepfake scams and misinformation campaigns.

Scammers manipulate AI and voice cloning technologies to create highly credible but fraudulent endorsements. AI and machine learning algorithms can superimpose faces and mimic voices, including copying mannerisms and vocal patterns.

Even ads with low credibility can be effective, especially to people who are unfamiliar with advances in AI technology.

Facebook users may have recently seen an ad on the platform featuring a deepfake Justin Trudeau promoting a cryptocurrency scam.

The fake ad uses footage from the CBC interview, but Trudeau speaks in an Australian accent.

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Angus Bridgman, assistant professor at McGill University, previously told the National Post, “A trademark of scams is that they need to be realistic enough to catch someone, but also fake enough that the people they catch are They can easily fall into its trap.” month.

While Bridgman said the Trudeau ad was poorly made, it was also serving a purpose by filtering out more experienced users in an effort to attract people who might be more likely to invest money in a scam.

“That's the type of person you want to capture with these ads: someone who is not digitally literate – the same way older people in Canada are victims of phone scams and identity theft,” Bridgman said.

The Prime Minister's Office acknowledged the challenges posed by deepfake technology and the spread of false information targeting elected officials in a statement to CTV through press secretary Jenna Ghasbeh.

“The amount of misleading, fake, and deceptive information and accounts targeting elected officials is increasingly worrisome and unacceptable, especially in the age of deepfake technology,” Ghasbeh said.

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While the federal government struggles to keep up with advances in technology, he says educating communities and fostering critical engagement with information are key strategies for security.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) says, “Social norms and discourse on deepfakes should be driven to create a social environment where people are more skeptical not only about what they see, but also about each other's information.” are also encouraged to challenge related claims.”

Some technology companies and social media platforms use a combination of human insight and automated methods to detect deepfakes, while there is also a push for a legal framework that can hold creators and distributors of deepfakes accountable and protect victims of defamation. Can provide security.

“Thought leaders and the most important people in social networks are critical to changing social norms,” CSIS says. “Educational resources, including digital literacy training, are helpful tools, especially if directed at influencers. Videos explaining political deepfakes have been found to reduce uncertainty and in doing so may increase trust in the media. “But norms only really change through collective action.”

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