An energy firm is out almost $250,000 from a high-tech phone scam that used artificial intelligence to mimic the boss’s voice.
The CEO of the unnamed company, based in the United Kingdom, thought he was on the phone with his boss from the company’s German headquarters and following directions when he transferred about $243,000 to pay what he was told was a Hungarian supplier. Instead, it was a scam using AI-generated voice deepfake.
The scammers reportedly made three phone calls to the CEO under the guise of his boss. The first call requested the transfer, the second claimed the money had been reimbursed, and, finally, the third call asked for a follow-up payment. The CEO began to suspect fraud when the reimbursement didn’t go through and the third phone call came from a Hungarian country code.
The CEO said the voice on the phone had the same slight German accent and conversational flow as his boss. The company’s insurance provider, Euler Hermes Group SA, shared the scam – the first one reported using AI technology voice deepfake – with The Wall Street Journal to bring attention to the new fraud.
The scammers have yet to be identified.