Deep fake scams involving public figures are rife on Facebook

February 27, 2024
deep fake AI

Deep fake crypto investment scams are circulating on Facebook, encouraging users to deposit money into a fake trading platform guaranteed to make them thousands. 

The latest in a sequence of AI-assisted scams involves a fake article describing British TV personality Ben Fogle promoting a fake crypto platform on the TV program Good Morning Britain.

This came to light through a family member who spotted the scam on Facebook and called me to ask about it. 

They knew something was off, but there was some hesitancy. It didn’t look like a normal scam.

I couldn’t find the original content to analyze the presence of any AI-generated images, audio, or video. However, it appears that someone has posted a copy and pasted version of the scam on Medium here and here.

The Medium articles feature screenshotted images, but these don’t appear AI-generated. 

deep fake AI
A crypto scam involved a fake transcript of public figure Ben Fogle in a conversation with Good Morning Britain Presenters Susanna Reid and Ben Shephard.

This resembles a previous scam involving journalist and broadcaster Martin Lewis, which featured a deep fake video of Martin Lewis alongside an image of Elon Musk.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was also targetted through hundreds of deep fake scams, again primarily posted on Facebook. 

In the Martin Lewis incident, Lewis’ digital avatar, a confirmed AI-generated video fake, spoke, “Elon Musk presented his new project in which he has already invested more than $3bn (£2.4bn). Musk’s new project opens up great investment opportunities for British citizens. No project has ever given such opportunities to residents of the country. Given the interesting features of the app and having seen how it works, we think it’s safe to say that the experience is legitimate.”

Lewis later appeared on the TV program “Good Morning Britain” to denounce the scam as fake, stating, “This is a deep fake. I mean they’ve put it together, we’re not quite sure of the exact tech. This is going around on Facebook at the moment and this, as far as I know, is the first deepfake scam advert that we’ve seen.”

The deep fake roulette wheel

For those unfamiliar, Ben Fogle became well-known for winning Castaway 2000, a reality TV program that followed 36 people marooned on the Scottish island of Taransay for a year. 

The scam says:

“English writer, actor, presenter, and comedian. Fogle has also been a public activist, Ben Fogle has made a name for himself as a brash straight-talker who doesn’t mind being honest about how he makes his money.”

“Last week, he appeared on The This Morning Show and announced a new “wealth loophole” which he says can transform anyone into a millionaire within 3–4 months. Fogle urged everyone in United Kingdom to jump into this amazing opportunity before the big banks shut it down for good.”

One article continues with a fake transcript from a conversation with Good Morning Britain broadcasters Ben Shepherd and Susanna Reid:

“Ben Fogle: “Think about it. If a man can become a millionaire in less than two months, why keep working? Sure, everyone can use my method, but who would work in restaurants, stores, or factories if everyone were wealthy?”

Ben Shephard: “This sounds too good to be true. I have always believed you to be honest and sincere, but I don’t believe you.”

Ben Fogle : “Did you just call me a liar? Huh, I’ll prove it to you that any poor Brit can make thousands of GBP pounds a day by just spending 10–20 minutes of free time a day. I’ll show you how much I make doing so myself. Long story short, stocks have something to do with it, and everybody is getting rich on them right now.”

The Bank of England was also referenced in the scam:

“Soon after, the Bank of England called the studio. Their fear caused them to demand that the live broadcast be halted immediately. Taking advantage of Immediate Xgen AI would cause the banking system to lose customers. The only thing people would use their cards for would be withdrawals of their income from the platform. That isn’t profitable for any bank.”

The articles point to a cryptocurrency-themed landing page that requests users sign up, deposit money, and start trading. 

It says that once you sign up, you should expect a call from an ‘account manager’ who will confirm your account.

Evolving tactics for old motives

Fogle was targetted by someone pretending to be him earlier this year, but he’s perhaps not a prime candidate for an investing scam compared to finance journalist Martin Lewis.

This raises suspicions that fraudsters might be targeting numerous public figures and pushing the content through targeted Facebook ads.

My family member had enjoyed Ben Fogle’s “New Lives in the Wild” program.

Coincidence? Perhaps, but scammers are more likely to succeed by targeting specific interests, which Meta’s ad platform enables. 

Previous studies of AI-powered fraud show how the technology enables fraudulent tactics on an immense scale.

It’s speculative, but there may be numerous iterations of these ultra-targeted scams lurking around social media platforms.

Martin Lewis had previously discussed how social media companies aren’t doing enough to prevent scams. This involved a lawsuit with Facebook, which agreed to donate £3m to Citizens Advice and set up a project to prevent scam adverts.

Lewis told Good Morning Britain, “We still have an absolute Wildwest on social media and other big tech advertising platforms that allows scammers to get away with impunity.”

With this more recent Ben Fogle incident, it’s apparent that little has changed. It’s just a matter of what public figures will next pop up on the deep fake roulette wheel.

Education is key in combating deep fakes and other forms of AI-assisted scams.

Conversations surrounding deep fakes in the media appear to be having some impact on public awareness, at least. 

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Sam Jeans

Sam is a science and technology writer who has worked in various AI startups. When he’s not writing, he can be found reading medical journals or digging through boxes of vinyl records.


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