“Deepfakes” accelerate cryptocurrency scams: “It’s very easy to fall into the trap, they are more and more sophisticated” | Technology

No TVE presenter promotes a Repsol “super platform” for investing money. However, a video showing journalist Marina Ribel during a report has circulated in recent days on the Instagram stories of several users. The presenter is in the studio 24 hour channel apparently reading one of the news of the day: “The Repsol company has announced the creation of a new super platform thanks to which any Spaniard can now completely forget about work”. Below, a panel explains the economic conditions of the company: by investing an initial 250 euros, you can obtain 1,500 euros per day and more than 25,000 per month.

This is a scam carried out using artificial intelligence. “It seemed like abstruse information for a serious news channel, so I paid more attention to the images. Then I realized it was a video deep fake, but the voice is the same as that of the presenter,” explains Marián Sánchez, a 41-year-old content creator, by telephone, who frequently warns against this type of scam on her Instagram account. When he tried to click on the link that appears at the bottom of the articles, a tab opened with the newspaper’s logo and graphic. The world on their website. The fake news was the same as advertised in the video, but the domain was not the newspaper it claimed to be. “I reported it a second time, but it was too late. On the same day, I encountered three other similar cases, with different public figures,” adds Sánchez.

This type of scam has filled social media in recent months. By the end of the year, it was impossible to browse X (formerly Twitter) without coming across purported posts from various newspapers, including EL PAÍS, with photos of celebrities to whom phrases are attributed that they had never uttered. “Martiño Rivas surprised everyone in the studio by revealing that he earns 128,000 euros more every month,” headlines one of these news items which received 2.2 million impressions on X in November. On the social network, a photo of the actor appeared during an interview in The anthill, but when you opened the link, you came to a fake page resembling EL PAÍS, where an American company was trying to sell cryptocurrencies. “The official website of Quantum AI claims that it can generate high profits for any user by running a unique trading algorithm. This algorithm allows the user to automatically trade with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies,” says the fake article signed by an editor of the newspaper.

Among those affected are actors and presenters such as David Broncano, Pablo Motos, Susana Grisso, Alberto Chicote or Antonio Resines, who allegedly starred in fake videos in which their voice is simulated to recommend this type of investments, in addition to take ownership of the identity. national media to obtain data and money from investors. “In general, we are seeing an increase in posts that aim to misinform. But the most problematic aspect is surely the appearance of deep fakes, because they are more difficult to identify. It is very easy to fall victim to these increasingly sophisticated scams,” emphasizes Ruth García, Citizen Cybersecurity Technician at the National Cybersecurity Institute (INCIBE).

Since then, This journal has compiled and reported more than a hundred publications Of this genre. In some cases, these are photos of celebrities from different TV shows who claim to have found a way to make easy money, and which redirect to fake newspaper pages. Sometimes the link starts leading to real news, but after a few hours the URL is replaced with that of a fraudulent website. Sometimes these are profiles of hair salons, product sales of different genres or travel influencers. In all cases, these are recently created accounts, with few followers and which pay for the premium services of check blue and earn money from the views of your publications).

No moderation in X

The strategy of impersonating media outlets and falsifying any of their information became popular during the boom cryptocurrencies. On the Twitter of Elon Musk, who bought the social network more than a year ago, this scam found the ideal ground to proliferate again. Upon his arrival, the businessman massively fired content moderators, while reinstating profiles expelled for hate speech or spreading hoaxes. Following these decisions, many high-profile companies suspended their advertising on the platform or significantly reduced it, making way for other advertisers, who filled the social network with campaigns promoting scams.

Even if we no longer find them with the same frequency as a few months ago, this type of publication continues to circulate significantly. Even after the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) announced an investigation into Elon Musk’s platform for advertising by fraudulent entities, by not verifying “that the advertiser has a license to offer services investment and that it is not sophisticated as a financial beach bar or pirate entity”. “, as he explained in a statement. In addition, the Spanish market supervisor included in his financial beach bars circular several web addresses of Quantum AI, the company that used without authorization images of actors and falsified screenshots of the EL PAÍS website to promote themselves.

“These are cyclical campaigns, which are part of the pattern of false investments. This is currently the largest scam in circulation, carried out by very organized and very serious criminal groups,” recognizes Alberto Redondo, head of the criminal cyber intelligence group of the Civil Guard. The scam consists of different phases. At the beginning, there is a group responsible for searching for victims, luring them through social networks with false promises of investment. After agreeing to give up their data to make the alleged purchase of cryptocurrencies, another group of the gang begins to collect this sensitive data to sell it to external platforms.

“In some cases, they even go so far as to steal your identity, with all the risks that entails,” adds Redondo. Getting out of this network is complicated, because every time victims try to withdraw their investment, the scammers try to convince them that it is not the right time and that the ideal would be to invest more. “When they finally realize that they have been scammed and report it, it becomes impossible to recover the lost money because these companies disappear,” he explains.

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