Extortion Scammers Are Making Explicit Deepfakes From Public Photos

The phenomenon of “sextortion” is by no means unique to the present era. The term refers to scammers digitally manipulating pictures in order to make it seem like the person in the photograph is taking part in explicit deeds. These pictures are then used to blackmail the person, with the malicious actor behind the scam threatening to publicize these pictures. The victim ostensibly pays the extortion scammers in order to prevent them from posting the manipulated pictures.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that the existence of AI has allowed scammers to take their malicious activities to the next level. Social media has also made it easier for scammers to get their hands on public pictures than might have been the case otherwise. The combination of these two innovations is creating a dangerous situation because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up leading to sextortion scams rising in number and severity.

The FBI has gone public with a statement claiming that they are receiving a concerningly high number of reports of this nature. Scammers are taking publicly posted photos and then using them to create AI generated nudes which can then be used to blackmail the victim.

Another way in which this scam is being conducted is that malicious actors are using AI generated pictures of minor girls to trick underage boys into exchanging nudes. These nudes are then used in the aforementioned blackmail schemes, revealing that even minors are not safe from these types of practices.

States like California have already started to draft legislation that will serve to outlaw deepfakes once and for all. It will be interesting to see where things go from here on out, since the rise in the number of these incidents may result in widespread harm done to children as well as to adults. It bears mentioning that the current bills that are attempting to get passed only target non-consensual deepfakes, but the reactive nature of the legal system may lead to all deepfakes getting banned before too long.

Read next: From Manipulation to Breach: How Social Engineering Tactics Compromise Cybersecurity
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