Deepfaked African Union chief called European leaders


Threat actors used artificial intelligence to impersonate African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki and place calls with various European leaders.

Fraudsters made deepfake video calls pretending to be Faki to a number of European capitals, his spokesperson Ebba Kalondo said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Kalondo also confirmed that suspected cybercriminals went ahead to hold calls with several European leaders, according to The EastAfrican, a Kenya-based news outlet.

Fraudsters used deepfake video alterations to impersonate the chairperson during the calls, it said. In a statement, the African Union (AU) said that fake email addresses were used to request phone calls with foreign leaders.

It said it “regrets these incidents” and reiterated that its official email addresses start with [email protected] and “any other email is not a legitimate AU email address.”

The AU also said that it would only use official letters, known as note verbale, to request calls with foreign leaders through accredited embassies in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, where its headquarters are located.

The AU did not say which European governments were affected by an apparent phishing attempt and did not name the leaders who spoke to deepfake Faki.

The intentions of the imposters are not clear either, but they might have intended to steal digital identities to gain access to restricted information, according to The EastAfrican.

This is not the first time officials in Europe have been targeted by deepfake video calls. Last year, mayors of several major European cities, including Berlin, fell for a fake video call that impersonated Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko.

In another case a year before, several European lawmakers said they were duped into holding a video phone call with the fake Leonid Volkov, aide to the jailed Russian opposition leader, Alexey Navalny.

Deepfake video scams and propaganda campaigns are also proliferating on social media, with a deepfake video of the British opposition leader Keir Starmer swearing at staffers going viral in the UK last week.

Cybersecurity experts say that deepfakes may soon pose the biggest cybersecurity threat, while AI-facilitated cyberattacks could become the norm in just five years.


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