Aussie billionaire Andrew Forrest targeted in a deepfake crypo scam

Aussie billionaire Dr Andrew Forrest has lashed at Facebook’s parent company Meta after he was featured in a deep fake crypto video scam.

The businessman and mining magnate, nicknamed Twiggy, had his identity used to spruik a get-rich-quick scheme with the ad circulating on Instagram.

The manipulated video, that surfaced late last month on the Meta-owned platform, shows ‘Dr Forrest’ urging users to sign up for a fraudulent platform that promises to make “ordinary people” thousands of dollars daily.

It then takes victims to a website called “Quantum AI,” which has become a synonymous name associated with scams and financial fraud, according to Cybertrace — the intelligence-led cyber investigations company that identified the scam video.

Deep fake AI is a type of artificial intelligence used to create convincing but fake photos and videos — with anyone potentially becoming a target.

The clip was carefully edited from a Rhodes Trust “fireside chat”, changing Dr Forrest’s appearance and behaviour to make him look like he’s promoting software for trading cryptocurrencies.

However, it’s all fake and experts have warned Aussies to be weary.

Cybertrace CEO Dan Halpin described the 11-minute clip that has now been removed as “quite sophisticated”, telling news.com.au Aussies could easily fall victim to its convincing nature.

“The quality is good and bad — visually it’s poor but the content and the fact it went for 11 minutes and followed sales and marketing strategies to get its point across, is convincing,” he said.

Mr Halpin said his company has done a fair bit of work looking into Qantam AI, adding that they come from a marketing background.

“They are a huge syndicate — and not just some random sitting in their garage running software. It is very much a large international organisation,” he said.

“They have a lot of influence in the scheme industry and a lot of money to spend that’s why you’re seeing so many of these deep fakes, because they have the money to produce it.”

In a statement released on Friday, Dr Forrest said it was “reprehensible that Facebook, a company valued at more than $1 trillion USD – makes a ­deliberate business decision to harm Australians”.

He said Meta did this by “refusing to spend the software engineering dollars needed to upgrade their systems to detect these AI ads”.

“That’s what I hope the legal actions I started will address; to make ­social media companies liable for the negligent way they run their ad platforms” he added.

His ongoing battle with Meta began five years ago when he brought criminal charges against the social media heavyweight over scam ads that were run on Facebook.

A number of the clickbait ads allege Dr Forrest secretly made his $27 billion fortune via cryptocurrency trading — and Meta is fighting the criminal charges brought by the billionaire over an alleged cryptocurrency advertising scam using his image that appeared on its site in 2019.

Lawyers for Meta formally pleaded not guilty in the District Court in Western Australia in December to three counts of recklessly dealing in proceeds of crime, The Australian reported.

Dr Forest said he took the legal action on behalf of everyday Aussies to ensure their hard-earned savings were not swindled by scammers.

“Facebook does nothing – that’s what I hope the legal actions I started will address; to make social media companies liable for the negligent way they run their ad platforms,” he continued in the statement.

“It is as important now as it was in 2019 when we first demanded Facebook be accountable for what transpires on its platform.

“I want social media companies to use more of their vast resources and billions of dollars in annual revenue to protect vulnerable people – the people who are targeted and fall victim to these horrible scams with their hard-earned savings.”

Mr Halpin said the company was able to easily identity that the video featuring Dr Forrest was fake.

“With this one it was quite simple,” he told news.com.au.

“We are aware of the techniques and skills they use for these types of scams.”

They were able to quickly identify it was the same site — Quantum AI — behind the recent Dick Smith and Gina Rinehart scams.

“We identified [that] as well understanding the language and techniques they used to entice people – but for the average person it would be quite credible,” he said.

Mr Halpin said it was likely the deep fake of Dr Forrest was also run on Facebook, but the scammers would have stopped running ads once it was detected. He said the speed at which it gets taken down varies.

“With Dick and Gina it was taken down very quickly but the current one was up for longer.”

Dick Smith has spoken out about his own experiences with deep fakes after scammers have used videos of him to create their own likeness.

The millionaire himself admitted he was even tricked by one of these videos.

“I’m incredibly angry because when I first saw it I thought it was really me, I thought they’d done an interview somewhere that I’d forgotten about but then I realised no it wasn’t,” he told A Current Affair in December.

“I’m saying to fellow Australians never ever buy anything that’s advertised on these Facebook or Instagram because you’ll probably lose your money,” Mr Smith said.

The millionaire himself was even tricked by one of these videos.

“I’m incredibly angry because when I first saw it I thought it was really me, I thought they’d done an interview somewhere that I’d forgotten about but then I realised no it wasn’t,” he told A Current Affair in December.

Despite efforts in warning fellow Aussies of these scams and calls for Meta to act, the adverts appear to be still popping up on social media platforms, with a Queensland couple having recently fallen victim.

Paula and Ron lost more than $220,000 from their superannuation account after deciding to trust a deep fake video

“There’s a scam going around with Gina Rinehart promoting online trading and you watch her lips and those words are coming from her lips,” Paula said.

“They put us on a roller coaster ride highs and lows and highs and lows … from a $350 investment to be talking to actually losing all my superannuation,” Ron added.

There are calls for the government to put more pressure on social media companies to stamp out these advertisements, with the industry under limited regulation.

“You would have thought that our government was ready for these sorts of scams, but it seems that maybe our government wasn’t,” media lawyer Justin Quill said

Mr Halpin said there’s a lot of excuses from social media giants when it comes to doing something about it, but ultimately it’s the user that has to pay.

“There would be some considerable amount of money that is being made form these fraudulent schemes,” he said.

“Even yesterday afternoon looking through Instagram, every fifth ad was something fraudulent.”

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