America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation warns that deepfake scammers are becoming a prevalent issue on the modern internet.
In a new alert, the FBI warns that “sextortion” crimes are becoming more frequent with the use of deepfake technology. Using the tech, scammers make fake images of unsuspecting people and blackmail them into giving them money.
The FBI warns that deepfake scammers will take innocent photographs of an individual and twist them for exploitation purposes. Selfies and other online materials are being manipulated into realistic explicit images without consent.
“The FBI continues to receive reports from victims, including minor children and non-consenting adults, whose photos or videos were altered into explicit content,” the agency warns. “The photos or videos are then publicly circulated on social media or pornographic websites, for the purpose of harassing victims or sextortion schemes.”
Since April, the agency has seen a a marked uptick in deepfake-led sextortion issues. The horrifying act sees deepfake scammers manipulating people to send “real sexually-themed images or videos” to carry on the manipulation.
“Victims [are] reporting the use of fake images or videos created from content posted on their social media sites or web postings, provided to the malicious actor upon request, or captured during video chats,” the agency said.
The ongoing deepfake scams also crosses gender. FBI agents report that, on top of exploiting young girls, deepfake scammers create false profiles of teenage girls to manipulate young boys. Afterwards, they attempt to blackmail them for large sums of money they can’t pay.
While deepfake technology has been used in major entertainment, the controversial tech has been criticised as many abuse it for wrongdoing. While online research tools such as Google Collab have banned the tech from their platforms, it’s still extremely prominent.
Deepfakes putting unsuspecting people in explicit videos has been banned in a few US states, but only a couple. However, this is set to change, as some states are attempting to introduce criminal charges to non-consensual explicit deepfakes.
In order to combat the new wave of tech-aided exploitation, the FBI offers little help. While the public is urged to be more careful with who they allow to see their selfies, there’s no real protection against the technology.