Firm targeted by HK$200-million deepfake incident in Hong Kong revealed: reports

'We can confirm that fake voices and images were used'

Firm targeted by HK$200-million deepfake incident in Hong Kong revealed: reports

Multinational engineering firm Arup has been identified as the organisation whose clerk mistakenly transferred HK$200 million to fraudsters.

Arup confirmed to CNN that it was the target of the scam, which became the subject of headlines after fraudsters used deepfake in a video conference to deceive the employee.

The firm is a British multinational firm that provides design, engineering, architecture, planning, and advisory services. Among its notable projects are the Sydney Opera House, London Eye, Marina Bay Sands, among others.

According to a spokesperson from the firm, they can't go into details of the incident as it remains under investigation.

"However, we can confirm that fake voices and images were used," the spokesperson told CNN.

It also assured that its financial stability and business operations were not affected, and none of its internal systems were compromised.

Deepfake incident

The incident was first reported to the Hong Kong police in February, where a clerk transferred HK$200 million to fraudsters after participating in a video conference where all participants turned out to be AI-generated deepfake personas.

Acting senior superintendent Baron Chan previously said the deepfake participants "looked like real people," advising the public to be "vigilant even in meetings with lots of participants."

The case comes as human error remained the leading cause of data breaches in 2023, according to the 2024 Thales Data Threat Report.

Rahul Mahna, partner and head of Outsourced IT Services at EisnerAmper, previously urged employers to train staff on cybersecurity and refresh the training at regular intervals.

"Given the increase in virtual/hybrid work, most companies should be conducting cybersecurity training at least quarterly," Mahna said.

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