Scammer uses AI to impersonate victim’s friend, steals 4.3m

Now Shenzhen   |   May 30, 2023

A scammer in China used artificial intelligence (AI) to pose as a businessman’s trusted friend and convince him to hand over millions of yuan, the authorities said.

The victim, whose surname is Guo, received a video call in April from a person who looked and sounded like a close friend.

But the caller was actually a con artist “using smart AI technology to change (his) face” and voice, according to an article published on Monday by a media portal associated with southern city of Fuzhou.

The scammer was “masquerading as (Guo’s) good friend and perpetrating fraud”, the article said.

Mr Guo was persuaded to transfer 4.3 million yuan after the fraudster claimed that another friend needed the money to be withdrawn from a company bank account to pay the guarantee on a public tender.

The con artist asked for Mr Guo’s personal bank account number and then claimed that an equivalent sum had been wired to that account, sending him a screenshot of a fraudulent payment record.

Without checking that he had received the money, Mr Guo sent two payments from his company account totalling the amount requested.

“At the time, I verified the face and voice of the person video-calling me, so I let down my guard,” the article quoted Mr Guo as saying.  He realised his mistake only after messaging the friend whose identity had been stolen and who had no knowledge of the transaction.  Mr Guo alerted the police, who notified a bank in another city not to proceed with the transfers, and managed to recover 3.4 million yuan, the article said.  It added that efforts to claw back the remaining funds were ongoing, but it did not identify the perpetrators of the scheme.  The potential pitfalls of groundbreaking AI technology have received heightened attention since United States-based company OpenAI in November launched ChatGPT, a chatbot that mimics human speech.  China has announced ambitious plans to become a global AI leader by 2030, and a slew of tech firms, including Alibaba,, NetEase and TikTok parent ByteDance, have rushed to develop similar products.