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What is a Deepfake Scam? How AI Face-Swapping Technology is Used by Scammers to Impersonate Friends and Family

Scam Alert
2024-06-20 | Whoscall


Deepfake technology is often used in scams, such as recent scam phone calls where people pretend to be friends or family members, using AI technology to mimic the voice of a family member. How does Deepfake work? What else could it be used for besides scams? How can you recognize it if it really happens to you? This article will help you understand everything.

Last week, the family of the founder of Whoscall received a call who sounded just like the founder and claimed he had changed his mobile phone number. This was actually a phone scam using Deepfake technology, which makes scams even more advanced and difficult to distinguish. Deepfake technology has brought about a revolution, making it so that we can no longer rely on what we see and hear.

Read more: Deepfake Scam Calls Are Targeting Your Family. Beware of Scammers Impersonating Your Voice!

In addition to the recent increase in Deepfake scams, there have been many well-known incidents using Deepfake technology around the world. For example, in 2020, many Taiwanese celebrities and public figures have their faces swapped into pornographic videos without their consent. In the United States, Deepfake technology is often used on political figures, especially to fake speeches by Obama and Trump, making them appear to say shocking things. Each time such a deepfake video is released, it garners a large number of retweets, causing many people to believe it to be true.

What is Deepfake?

The term "Deepfake" emerged in 2017. Also known as "Deep Forgery," it refers to fake content created through the deep learning technology of AI, or more familiarly known as "AI face swap." This technology relies on Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs), which can replace a person's face or voice in a video or audio clip, creating highly realistic fake content. This makes it appear as if the targeted person is doing or saying things they have never done or said before.

Uses of Deepfake

Deepfake is a powerful technology with a range of applications. While it offers many benefits and advancements across various fields, it also presents significant concerns when misused. Let's take a look at these application scenarios to understand more about Deepfake technology.

Positive Uses of Deepfake

Film and Television Industry: Deepfake can create special effects in movies, resurrecting deceased actors on screen or featuring actors without their physical presence. For example, in "Furious 7," the late Paul Walker was brought back to life on screen using Deepfake technology after his untimely death during filming.

Education: Educational institutions can use Deepfake to create realistic lectures by historical figures, allowing students to interact with these characters and making history lessons more engaging.

Medical Use: In medical training, Deepfake can simulate surgical procedures, providing doctors with realistic practice scenarios to enhance their practical skills.

Better Gaming Experience: AI Face-swapping apps have been popular for a few years, allowing users to see themselves age or transform into characters from movies or TV shows. It can also be used to try on clothes and hairstyles, allowing you to shop on your mobile phone and pick the right outfit for you.

Controversial Uses of Deepfake

Pornography: Deepfake is often used to create fake celebrity sex videos and revenge porn. In 2017, explicit Deepfake content appeared on the internet, particularly on Reddit. By 2018, Reddit banned the distribution of  involuntary pornography.

Scam: Deepfake can produce fake videos or audio recordings to deceive victims into believing they are real, leading to financial or other resource fraud.

Fake News: Deepfake technology can create fake news, such as altering the content of a politician's speech, to mislead the public and even cause social panic or political unrest.

Identity Theft: Many financial institutions now offer online account opening services, and with Deepfake technology, it is possible for someone to successfully open an account under someone else's identity.

Common Deepfake Scams

Phone and Video Call Scams 

With Deepfake technology, traditional phone scams have evolved. Scammers can impersonate anyone's voice or appearance, making calls or video calls to their targets. For example, a scammer may call you using your family member's voice and claim they have changed their phone number. Alternatively, they may pretend to be a senior executive of a company and instruct staff to transfer funds or provide sensitive information.

In February this year, a multinational company in Hong Kong fell victim to a Deepfake scam, losing $26 million. The scammers used Deepfake technology to impersonate the company's CFO in a video call, instructing an employee to transfer a large sum of money.

Related Article: Hong Kong: $26 million stolen thanks to a deepfake

Fake Celebrity Endorsements

Scammers frequently use Deepfake technology to create advertisements featuring stolen images of celebrities, promoting subpar products or fraudulent services. Elon Musk is often targeted in these scams, with his likeness used to advertise fake investment platforms.

Related Article: Elon Musk used in fake AI videos to promote financial scam

Romance Scams

In the past, romance scams were easier to detect when the scammer refused to show their face. Now, scammers can use Deepfake to generate fake video footage and voices, making the victim believe they are genuinely interacting with the person they see. Deepfake romance scams are more convincing, leading victims to send money or invest in fraudulent platforms.

How to Identify Deepfake Scams

Confirm Identity: When receiving a call or video call with unusual requests, always verify the person's identity through other means before taking any action. Or you can set up a secret code with your family and friends that only you know, to confirm identities during calls.

Observe Video Details: Although Deepfake may look real at first glance, there are usually some clues to its inauthenticity. Look for unnatural blinking, lips out of sync with the voice, robotic speech, sudden changes in lighting or skin tones, and poor audio or video quality. These subtleties can reveal the traces of Deepfake.

Use Whoscall's Comprehensive Anti-Fraud Tools: Whoscall not only helps you identify unknown calls but also offers suspicious website checking service. No matter how realistic Deepfake content may appear, when you're about to be lured into clicking a link, you can input the link into Whoscall and instantly see its risk rating. This way, you can easily avoid scams!

Upgrade to Whoscall Premium: Scammers, harassers, and company numbers change rapidly. With Whoscall Premium, the number database updates automatically, so you no longer need to manually update it weekly. This ensures you always recognize the latest calls, enhancing your call security!

👉 Install/Update Whoscall Now


Let Whoscall be your ally. Install Whoscall to block nuisance calls and enhance personal security:

☑️ Identify unknown calls: The first line of defense against phone scams! Know the caller's identity before deciding to answer and easily avoid falling for the tricks of scammers.

☑️ Detect leakage of personal data: Stay informed about the safety of your personal information and receive early warnings and reinforced defenses before scams strike!

☑️ Filter scam SMS: After upgrading to Whoscall Premium, Whoscall automatically categorizes your messages, filtering out high-risk texts for your peace of mind!

☑️ Verify suspicious links: With a single click, easily determine the safety of unknown links in text messages, searches, or group chats. Receive risk assessments for worry-free browsing.