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Adviser thwarts investment scam using Bill Gates' image

Adviser thwarts investment scam using Bill Gates' image

A chartered financial planner has warned of the use of new video technology in scams after one of his clients nearly lost £20,000.

Martin Bamford said the client contacted him after seeing a video which appeared to feature Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates explaining why he was investing in an ethical fund.

But after closer inspection Mr Bamford realised the video had been faked and warned the client not to invest.

After researching the issue Mr Bamford came to the conclusion the video must have been put together using the same artificial intelligence-generated face-swapping technology made to use "deepfakes"  - pornographic videos where the actress's face is replaced by someone else's.

The Surrey-based adviser said: "It piqued her interest because she was interested in ethical investing.

"But we knew something was up because we thought that had Bill Gates started investing in a green energy fund it would have been widespread knowledge.

"The technology is out there and is being used a lot. It won't be long before we see this being quite a widespread thing.

"My concern is that there are quite a lot of people out there that investors trust and it wouldn't take much for someone like a scammer to use someone like Martin Lewis or Neil Woodford.

"There is no cost barrier to this technology now."

Videos using this technology have been banned from Twitter and adult entertainment website Pornhub.

But they have also been used to doctor images of US President Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Mr Bamford said: "Within a matter of months, this technology will have developed to the extent it will be possible for investment fraudsters to create videos which are indistinguishable from the real thing."

Research by Phoenix Group recently found some 12 per cent of consumers have been targeted by fraudsters after revealing personal information.

This figure represents up to 6.4 million people who have been victims of scams.

The Financial Conduct Authority has warned about the increasing use of social media to promote investment scams, saying it is leading to a changing profile of those who fall victims to fraud.

Fraudsters offering binary options, contracts for difference, Forex and cryptocurrencies often promote themselves online and through social media, promising high returns and using images of luxury items such as expensive watches and cars to lure their victims to invest.

damian.fantato@ft.com

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