Hong Kong arrests 6 for loan fraud scheme using AI deep fakes

Six individuals have been arrested in Hong Kong after allegedly using artificial intelligence to generate images for a loan scam. 

The six accused scammers are charged with doctoring pictures to deceive banks and moneylenders in a loose fraud syndicate busted by city police. 

“The racket used an AI face-changing program, commonly known as deepfake technology, to apply for loans online with financial institutions,” said Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau Superintendent Dicken Ko Tik on Friday.

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The Hong Kong skyline is seen from an aerial view.

“We will continue to actively engage with stakeholders from various industries to bring cyber criminals hiding in the digital world to justice,” Ko added.

The syndicate is accused of using stolen ID cards and manufactured documents to apply for loans via the internet. Identities, proofs of address, income statements and more were allegedly falsified with artificial intelligence and uploaded to financial institutions for approval. 

Many targeted institutions require those seeking loans to take real-time selfies during the application process to prove their identity. 

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According to Hong Kong authorities, the scammers used AI to alter their faces to match those depicted on the stolen identity cards.

The High Court of the City of Hong Kong

Police personnel are seen outside the High Court in Hong Kong. (ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP via Getty Images)

Authorities say the group filed at least 20 loan applications using AI technology, with one loan for approximately $8,937 approved.

Stolen identity cards were used to apply for an additional 70 loans and open 20 bank accounts.

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The syndicate also used stolen identities to register for dozens of SIM cards, which were used to send unsolicited messages phishing for credit card details and personal information.

Police stated that the suspects were between the ages of 31 and 50, and a 35-year-old man arrested during the raid is believed to have been the ringleader.

All suspects have been detained on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and are being held for questioning. The investigation is ongoing, and authorities have not ruled out further arrests.