• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

How ‘yahoo boys’ are using AI to steal hearts and cash

A woman on a video call was showered with compliments the moment she answered. “Wow, you so pretty, honey,” came the voice of the man on the other side. His image showed a white man with short hair, seemingly a few years younger, sporting a plaid shirt.

“You look different with that beard gone,” the woman, speaking with an American accent, remarked as the conversation flowed. The man readily responded, “I told you I was going to shave to look good for you.”

However, the man’s identity and appearance were a carefully constructed illusion. The seemingly genuine interaction unfolded over a deepfake – a video manipulation that realistically superimposed a fabricated face onto the man’s actual image.

According to Wired.com,  popular Nigerian  internet fraudsters called ‘Yahoo boys’, are using increasingly sophisticated deepfake technology to impersonate potential partners online in romance scams.

These scammers leverage video calling platforms like Zoom to interact with victims while using deepfakes to alter their appearance in real-time.

The deepfakes are created  by the ‘Yahoo boys’ using readily available software that allows users to swap their faces with celebrities or influencers.

In one common technique, scammers use a two-phone setup: one phone to record the video call and another phone running the deepfake software to project a desired image.

Another tactic involves using a laptop with webcam to capture the scammer’s face and software to manipulate their appearance before feeding the altered video into the video call.

Experts warn that the quality of deepfakes is rapidly improving, making them more believable and potentially leading to significant financial losses for victims.

Social engineering tactics are often employed to build trust with victims before the financial exploitation begins.

The ease of use of this technology has security experts concerned about its potential application in other types of scams beyond romance schemes.