back to article Bank manager tricked into handing $35m to scammers using fake 'deep voice' tech

Authorities in the United Arab Emirates have requested the US Department of Justice's help in probing a case involving a bank manager who was swindled into transferring $35m to criminals by someone using a fake AI-generated voice. The employee received a call to move the company-owned funds by someone purporting to be a …

  1. Chris 15

    My bet on the accounts?

    I'd say they'll find they are mule accounts operated by possibly unwitting victims

    1. You aint sin me, roit Silver badge

      My bet on the perp

      Inside job... "I never made that call, must have been a deep fake!".

  2. KarMann Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Naming

    Is it just me, or does calling it 'deep voice technology' completely miss and obfuscate the point? It's obviously modelled as a variation on 'deep fakes', but if you take out that crucial 'fake' part, all that's left sounds like it's just a device that lowers the voice's pitch.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Naming

      And anyway, surely no bank would ever rely on just hoping to recognise someones voice as the one and only security identifier. Or would they? :-)

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Naming

        Maybe in the UAE.

        Here they would definitely require an email from a .ru address requesting the bank manager to buy $35M in gift cards and mail then to a PO box

      2. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

        Re: Naming

        And how do they know that my boss is Darth Vader?

    2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Naming

      I believe they’d originally planned to call it deep throat, but there were some issues with that one.

  3. HildyJ Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Of all the scams in all the world -

    This seems like one of the shakiest.

    It sounds like the group that ElReg described back in September - https://www.theregister.com/2020/09/01/brit_bloke_extradited/

    But then they were mimicking customers to get thousands from their bank accounts.

    The idea that a bank would transfer millions based on a voice call is ludicrous.

    1. WolfFan Silver badge

      Re: Of all the scams in all the world -

      The company was, I repeat, was, a very good customer.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Of all the scams in all the world -

        As I read the article the company was the bank. There's no mention of a customer.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Of all the scams in all the world -

      From the sound of it, they also had fake documents and emails to start the scam, with the voice call only as a second factor. The bank certainly should alter their policies so one person, even completely convinced, cannot lose them that much money without oversight.

    3. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Of all the scams in all the world -

      "The idea that a bank would transfer millions based on a voice call is ludicrous."

      It illustrates a failing in the banking systems, how are they going to "fix" this problem, will they do all transfers this large in future via an app - that would avoid them getting blamed, they would just say that the app had been hacked and they were insured.

  4. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

    Backpage story

    UAE bank raises overdraft fee from 100 dirham to 100,000 dirham.

  5. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

    Did anyone else read the article and think, the bank manager is 100% positive that a deep fake voice mimicking software was used?

    Sure, it may have happened. But he could also have made a giant error of judgement and this is his excuse.

    For all he knows, it was a voice actor putting an accent on?

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Bank Managers

      Not the sharpest tools in the shed. A relative perpetrated a doozie on a bank manager, I won't go into details, but it came down to a phone authorization from someone other than the account holder. This was back in the 80s... Nothing new, but my question is why are things authorized this way in this day and age? What about the Blockchain?????? 2FA??? Retinal scans, colonic maps??? Something besides a voice!

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Presumably he thinks it was a fake because he's been told it wasn't who it claimed to be. But was it?

  6. Nifty Silver badge

    My bank was offering an opt in to use your voice to authenticate you, based on a call you just made. So if a scammer can acquire enough recordings of you, thinking of public speaking people here - and create a deepfake voice changer, would that be a sufficient authorization?

    1. johnfbw

      It would be enough for your bank to say they weren't responsible and tell you you aren't getting the money back!

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Usually when I've seen these, they make you say something that they've just come up with so you can't use a recording. That would require them to have a pretty good model for sounding like you because they could have left out an accent trick which the bank's model has remembered. However, it's hard to test and easy for an attacker to play with, so I would recommend that nobody enable that if they have a choice to use a less convenient but more secure method.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Apart from the fact phone lines (especially modern ones with digital compression) are terrible for accurate voice identification because a lot of the info is stripped out to fit more bits down the line.

    3. AndyJWard

      Echoes of that creepy new Home Office authentication... "Your voice is your password"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I refused to partake in having HMRC verify my identity using that system. Even the passphrase is an acknowledgement that voice recognition systems can be hacked using relatively low tech methods, because most people of a certain age would recognise it from the film "Sneakers".

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    100 Languages

    "Microsoft Translator, language translation software powered by neural networks, can now translate over 100 different languages."

    Can it do English <-> Geordie?

  8. MiguelC Silver badge
    Stop

    "Imagine your AR device displaying exactly how to hold the sticks during a drum lesson, guiding you through a recipe, helping you find your lost keys, or recalling memories as holograms that come to life in front of you," Facebook said in a blog post.

    I've seen the movie picture and the TV series... it doesn't end well in either

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      and what of the 2m hours of AR cats playing?

  9. teebie

    The annual State of AI report is out

    Is it a piece of A4 saying "There's still no such thing as AI. It's a load of marketing guff"

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