Stock market, Deepfakes and Scams

Stock market, Deepfakes and Scams

A deepfake video of a CEO endorsing a stock could create false hype and lead to a surge in buying, inflating the price beyond its real value.

Imagine getting investment advice directly from the CEO of your country’s National Stock Exchange (NSE). Will you take it or will you do your due diligence first? For most, the answer would probably be the former.

This is exactly what happened when a deepfake video of NSE’s MD & CEO, Mr. Ashishkumar Chauhan started circulating on social media platforms. The national stock exchange cautioned investors not to believe such audio and videos.

What are deepfakes?

Deepfakes are artificially generated videos or audio recordings created using artificial intelligence (AI) that appear highly realistic, often making it challenging to differentiate them from authentic materials. This technology superimposes one person’s face or voice onto another’s body or speech.

“Such videos seem to have been created using sophisticated technologies to imitate the voice and facial expressions of Ashishkumar Chauhan,” the NSE said. These videos can create false hype disrupting global markets. 

On November 22, Zerodha, a well-known stock market platform, reported an incident where a customer narrowly avoided a scam that could have cost them Rs 1.80 lakh. Not everyone has been fortunate enough to avoid such scams. In a similar incident, an employee of a British energy company was duped into transferring $250,000 (Rs 20.6 crores) by a deepfake voice that impersonated the CEO of the parent organization. In 2020, a bank manager based in Hong Kong lost $35m (Rs 288.7 crore) due to a highly convincing deepfake call.

Due to easy access to the internet and AI technology, creating videos using someone’s voice as well as face has become an easy task. The biggest challenge is the increasing sophistication of such videos. It is important, now more than ever, for investors to be extra vigilant and do their due diligence before making any judgements or investment decisions based on online information.

With a population of approximately 1.4 Billion, In India, such deepfake videos can cause more harm than good and at an astronomical scale.

As India gears up for the world’s biggest ‘Lok Sabha election, Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi advised his ministers to avoid controversies and be cautious of deepfake videos.

“Please be mindful before making any statements. Nowadays, there is a trend of deepfake in which voice, etc can be altered, be cautious of this”, NDTV quoted a source attributing to the Prime Minister as saying.

But how can one protect oneself from being a victim of the deepfake scams? 

The answer is to be sceptical and cautious. If you see a video online promoting a stock, especially one that seems too good to be true, be sceptical. Don’t rush into any investment decisions based solely on a video.

Deepfakes, despite their advanced nature, may exhibit slight irregularities. Observe the CEO’s facial expressions, body language, and any atypical voice patterns carefully.

More importantly, before making any decisions or judgements, always do your research and verify the source of any information passed on social media platforms.