Deepfake Fraud Is on the Rise

( – The World Wide Web has become the digital version of the Wild West — a place where cyber villains roam the landscape, claiming victims with increasingly sophisticated trickery. Unfortunately, with the recent introduction of artificial intelligence (AI), the prevalence of deepfakes is on the rise, creating even more chaos for unwitting internet users.

A relatively new industry has emerged due to rising issues with deepfakes. Companies like Sumsub offer data verification services and spend considerable time and resources tracking digital trends. The company recently reported that the overall proportion of deepfakes among online fraud types increased by 1,200% in the first quarter of 2023 over the figures reported at the end of 2022.

Put another way, the percentage of online fraud instances involving deepfakes increased from 0.2% in 2022 to 2.6% by the end of March. Tracking figures for Q2 of 2023, which included April through June, aren’t available yet.

For those unfamiliar with the term, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) defines the term as realistic appearing photo, video, and audio materials forged or altered using AI technologies. Those forgeries are created using machine learning, an AI subset, allowing individuals to create counterfeit data in minutes — depending on the particular project.

The CRS warns that deepfakes present various national security issues, creating significant challenges for social media platforms, US defense authorizations, and congressional oversight.

The Government Accounting Office went a step further, advising that the technology can “incite civil unrest” or “influence elections.”

With the national primaries revving up and general elections only 15 months away, the reality of another round of disputed electoral outcomes appears increasingly likely.

Public Citizen, a nonpartisan advocacy group, recently submitted a petition to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) seeking new regulations for AI-created deepfake political ads. The group’s head, Robert Weissman, warns that the rising “stampede of deceptive deepfakes… threatens to trample [American] democracy.” Unfortunately, the FEC remains deadlocked on the matter, leaving the door open to an influx of deepfakes — at least for now.

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