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Computer Program Used to Imitate One CEO's Voice Fools Another into Making Funds Transfer

By:
Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Aug 30, 2019
GettyImages-AI-smart-speaker-1001176658

In what has been dubbed the first attack of its kind, AI-guided software was used to mimic the voice of a company's CEO and steal hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The attack targeted a U.K.-based firm, the identity of which has not been revealed to the public. The CEO of that firm received a call that seemed as if it was coming from the head of its German parent company, asking him to send funds to a supplier in Hungary within the next hour. He transferred $243,000 to a Hungarian bank account. The fraudsters, posing as the German company's head, then called a second time saying the company would be reimbursed for the funds, and then a third time to request more money. Each time, the voice sounded enough like the real person to fool the U.K. CEO, though he became suspicious after the third call because the number was from Austria, and the reimbursement never came. By then, however, the money in the Hungarian account had been transferred to another in Mexico, and subsequently moved to multiple other locations.

The precise nature of the attack is still unknown. Authorities believe that the attackers used commercial voice editing software but do not know whether they used bots to pull off the scam. So far, there are no suspects.