This past week, an incident from Hong Kong brought about the first of its kind heist. Someone used deepfake AI technology to join a conference call as the CEO and instructed the company’s CFO to wire $25 million to a fictitious business.
This sounds like something from a movie, but it’s real, and using a few AI tools, this can be incredibly convincing.
How does this affect small businesses?
Alot more than you think, just imagine a scammer calls your business to get a service and is able to speak to the owner of the business, during this call they record the owner talking, capturing their voice, or perhaps the owner of the business has done a video somewhere on YouTube, something with this audio file you can create an audio file which can be done with a software that cost 29 bucks a month. Then they do a bit of digging to determine who within the company handles the finances, accounts receivable, etc. Then they craft an invoice and send it to that person, maybe not for a lot of money like the event in Hong Kong; perhaps the invoice is for $25k or even $5k. Then the accounts person receives a phone call from her boss’s phone number can also be done with a simple phone app. Boss says “Hey Sandy, there should be an invoice for X. I forgot to pay that last week, and they had to resend it. Can you please pay that real quick and get me a confirmation number?” Sandy, seeing the boss’s phone number, hearing the boss’s voice, and sensing the boss’s urgency, makes this quite convincing especially if the scammer is smart enough during the call with the business owner to take note of brands the owner mentions and then makes the invoice look like it came from a known supplier. Sandy pays it, and no one is the wiser until they are.
I can even imagine this even happening to small husband and wife business owners where one of them handles the sales and one handles the finances or something like that. Nearly any business is vulnerable.
What to do?
Well, it’s time to incorporate a system. That system could be as simple as a safe word that is used in financial-related phone calls. Whatever system you create, this is something that should happen sooner rather than later. And stay vigilant; the scams will only get better and more convincing. This could become a significant issue. A lot of good comes from AI technologies, but as with anything, there are crooks out there who will leverage it for bad. Don’t be the next news article headline.