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How To Spot A Deepfake & Avoid Scams

Scammers are taking advantage of new deepfake technology to create videos so convincing that people will hand over their money

New research from BBB details new scams utilizing deepfake technology and provides tips on recognizing and avoiding them.

You come across a video of Elon Musk while scrolling through social media. Or perhaps a trusted friend sent you the video. In it, Elon Musk talks about ways to invest in cryptocurrency and how you can make a large amount of money in no time. This sounds like a get-rich-quick scheme, but the video looks so real! Musk is a famous business leader, so his advice must be credible, right?

Think again! The video is a fake. Scammers used deepfake technology to create it from existing footage of Musk. If you follow the links and “invest,” you’ll lose everything.

One consumer who lost all of his Bitcoin to this scam described the video he saw: “The spoofed video is an apparent live feed with many viewers and likes, and looks like a legit web broadcast… During the video, there are constant references by the participants to coin giveaways. It makes you believe that it is very real and a limited-time offer.”

Also, watch out for more scams using similar deepfake videos. One victim reported to BBB Scam Tracker a similar scam targeting Canadians. In this video, Musk offered “poor families a chance to become rich in a few months” by instantly turning an initial $250 CAD deposit into $6,000 CAD.

How To Spot Viral Video Scams

Understand how deepfake technology works. Deepfake technology takes video clips and photos of a person and uses the imagery to create new videos and audio clips. See this BBB article for tips on spotting deepfakes.

Know that celebrities are often impersonated. Politicians, actors, business leaders, and other celebrities are often “recreated” in deepfakes. That’s because plenty of public video clips and photos of them are available. Don’t assume a celebrity video is legitimate unless you can verify it came from an official source.

Don’t “act immediately.” Most scams involve an element of urgency. Claims that you can get rich quickly, but only if you act now, are a red flag. Never give in to pressure to invest, wire funds, or give up your personal information to receive a gift, money, or an investment opportunity.

Don’t believe everything you see on social media. Never make financial decisions based on viral videos on social media. Before investing in something or donating to a charity, do plenty of research to ensure you do so through a legitimate channel.

For More Information

Read BBB’s tips on investment scams and deepfakes to avoid falling victim to similar scams.

Learn more about cryptocurrency scams in BBB’s study on crypto scams.

If you spot a deepfake scam on social media or anywhere else, report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help protect other consumers by exposing scammers’ tactics.

Stay one step ahead of scammers by subscribing to BBB’s weekly Scam Alert emails.