British engineering giant Arup revealed it was the victim of a $25 million fake scam

British engineering giant Arup revealed it was the victim of a $25 million fake scam

A British multinational design and engineering company behind world-famous buildings such as the Sydney Opera House has confirmed it was the target of a fake scam that led to one of its Hong Kong workers paying $25 million to fraudsters.

A spokesman for London-based Arup told CNN on Friday that it notified Hong Kong police in January about the fraud incident, and confirmed that fake voices and images had been used.

“Unfortunately, we cannot explain in detail at this stage because the incident is still under ongoing investigation. However, we can confirm that fake voices and images were used,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

“The financial stability and operations of our business were not affected and none of our internal systems were affected,” the person added.

Hong Kong police said in February that during the elaborate scam the employee, a finance worker, was tricked into attending video calls with people he believed to be the chief financial officer and other staff members, but all turned out to be fake again. -creation. Authorities did not name the companies or parties involved at the time.

According to police, the employee initially suspected he had received a phishing email from the company’s UK office, as it stated the need for secret transactions to be carried out. However, the employee put aside his doubts after the video call because others present looked and sounded like colleagues he knew.

He later agreed to send a total of 200 million Hong Kong dollars — about $25.6 million. The amount was sent through 15 transactions, Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK reported, citing police.

“Deepfake” usually refers to fake videos that have been created using artificial intelligence (AI) and look very realistic.

Earlier this year, an AI-generated pornographic image of pop star Taylor Swift spread across social media, underscoring the destructive potential posed by AI technology.

Attacks ‘increasing dramatically’
As a leading engineering consulting firm, Arup has 18,500 employees in 34 offices worldwide. It is responsible for landmarks such as the Bird’s Nest stadium, site of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“Like many other businesses around the world, our operations are subject to common attacks, including invoice fraud, phishing fraud, WhatsApp voice fraud and deepfakes. What we’ve seen is that the number and sophistication of these attacks has increased dramatically in recent months,” Rob Greig, Arup’s global chief information officer, said in an emailed statement.

Authorities around the world are increasingly concerned about the sophistication of deepfake technology and the malicious uses it can be put to.

In an internal memo seen by CNN, Arup’s East Asia regional chairman, Michael Kwok, said “the frequency and sophistication of these attacks is increasing rapidly around the world, and we all have an obligation to remain informed and vigilant about how to detect the different techniques used by liar.”

Kwok returned to the role earlier this month, replacing Andy Lee, who announced his departure from Arup on his LinkedIn page about a week ago after 26 years at the company.

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