UK Engineering Firm Arup Scammed Out of £20m by Deepfake

UK Engineering Firm Arup Scammed Out of £20m by Deepfake
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London (Parliament News) – UK engineering firm Arup lost HK$200m (£20m) to criminals via deepfake video call. The employee was deceived into transferring funds. Arup confirmed financial stability remains intact. Hong Kong police investigation ongoing.

The UK engineering company Arup has affirmed it was the victim of a deepfake fraud after an employee was tricked into sending HK$200m around £20m to criminals by an artificial intelligence-generated video call. 

What Led Arup to Fall Victim to Deepfake Scam?

Hong Kong police expressed in February that a worker at a then-unnamed business had been tricked into transferring extensive sums by people on a hoax call “posing as senior officers of the company”. Arup stated in a statement that it was the firm involved, confirming that at the start of the year, it had “notified the police about a happening of fraud in Hong Kong”. It confirmed that fake voices and images were used.

It added: “Our financial stability and business operations were not affected and none of our internal systems were compromised.”

What Is Arup’s Response to the Deepfake Fraud?

The Arup global chief information officer, Rob Greig, who supervises the company’s computer systems, expressed the organisation has been subject to regular attacks including deepfakes.

“Like many other businesses around the globe, our operations are subject to regular attacks, including invoice fraud, phishing scams, WhatsApp voice spoofing and deepfakes. What we have seen is that the number and sophistication of these attacks has been rising sharply in recent months,” he stated.

Greig said he desired that Arup’s experience would “raise awareness” of the growing sophistication of cyber-attackers. The Financial Times first noted that Arup was the company targeted by the fraudsters.

Arup, one of the world’s leading consulting engineering companies, employs more than 18,000 workers and famously provided the structural engineering for the Sydney Opera House including its unique concrete shells. Recent assignment involvements include the Crossrail transport system in London and the Sagrada Família in Barcelona.

The Guardian disclosed last week that the head of the world’s biggest advertising group was targeted by a deepfake fraud using an AI voice clone. The WPP chief executive, Mark Read, exposed the fraud in an email to senior colleagues and alerted them to look out for calls claiming to be from top executives.

How Did Cybercriminals Exploit Deepfake on Arup Employee?

Hong Kong media cited a senior police superintendent, Baron Chan, saying that the worker had been invited on to a conference call with “many participants”. Because the parties “looked like the real people”, Chan stated, the employee then transferred a total of HK$200m to five local bank accounts via 15 transactions.

The Hong Kong police force stated in a statement on Friday that an employee had been “deceived of some HK$200m after she received video meeting calls from someone posing as senior officers of the organisation requesting to transfer money to designated bank accounts”.

It said no detentions had been made so far but the probe was ongoing and the case was being classified as “obtaining property by deception”.

Federica Calabrò

Federica Calabrò is a journalist at Parliament News, She is covering Business and General World News. She is a native of Naples, commenced her career as a teller at Poste Italiane before following her passion for dance. Graduating in classical dance, she showcased her talents with two entertainment companies, enchanting audiences throughout Italy. Presently, Federica serves as the general secretary at the Allianz Bank Financial Advisors financial promotion center in Naples. In this capacity, she manages office forms, provides document assistance for Financial Advisors, oversees paperwork for the back office, and ensures smooth customer reception and assistance at the front office. Outside her professional obligations, Federica indulges in her passion for writing in her leisure time.