Deepfake fraud and attacks on the rise in SA

South Africa has seen a rise in deepfake frauds by 1200% and has seen a 19.7% in deepfake attacks, according to a new report by Sumsub.

South Africa has seen a rise in deepfake frauds by 1200% and has seen a 19.7% in deepfake attacks, according to a new report by Sumsub.

Published Dec 7, 2023


Cape Town - South Africa has seen a rise in deepfake frauds by 1200% and has seen a 19.7% spike in deepfake attacks, according to a new report by Sumsub.

Sumsub, a full-cycle verification platform, recently released its third annual Identity Fraud Report. The report provides a comprehensive analysis of identity fraud across industries and regions based on millions of verification checks across 28 industries and more than two million fraud cases between 2022 and 2023.

The report analyses trends, patterns, and changes in identity fraud to gain valuable insights.

Sumsub’s report found that there’s been a significant tenfold increase in the number of deepfakes detected globally across all industries from 2022 to 2023, with notable regional differences: 1740% deepfake surge in North America, 1530% in APAC, 780% in Europe (including the UK), 450% in Middle East and Africa (MEA) and 410% in Latin America.

The report also found that among African countries, South Africa (19.7%) and Nigeria (11.5%) have faced the highest number of deepfake attacks.

Deepfakes often use a form of artificial intelligence (AI) to allow the manipulation of a video or sound recording, and to replace what is said or how people in a video look, in a way that appears real.

Pavel Goldman-Kalaydin, head of AI/ML at Sumsub, said: “The rise of artificial intelligence is reshaping how fraud is perpetrated and prevented. AI serves as a powerful tool both for anti-fraud solution providers and those committing identity fraud.

“Our internal statistics show an alarming tenfold increase in the number of AI-generated deepfakes across industries from 2022 to 2023. Deepfakes pave the way for identity theft, scams, and misinformation campaigns on an unprecedented scale.”

Hannes Bezuidenhout, Sumsub’s VP Sales for Africa, added that the sharp rise of deepfakes in South Africa is alarming.

“Of concern to South Africans is the astounding rise in deepfake frauds by 1200%. Seen against a rise of 450% in identity fraud for the MEA region, this poses a significant threat and cause for concern.

“Creating deepfakes has become simpler, leading to a surge in their numbers, as reflected in the statistics. Fraudsters use a person’s genuine document, extracting a photo to craft a three-dimensional persona.

“Providers lacking continuous efforts to update deepfake detection technologies are jeopardising businesses and users. Updating these technologies is crucial for modern, effective verification and anti-fraud systems.”

Forensic criminologist and director of security consulting firm Cybareti, Laurie Pieters-James, recently explained that three deepfake fraudulent trends are pornographic exploitation, business vulnerabilities and financial fraud.

Some further insights Pieters-James provided was that similarly to how individuals can misappropriate images and fabricate fake profiles online, scammers now leverage deepfake technology to escalate deception.

“The gravest threat posed by deepfakes to businesses and the media isn’t solely centred around corporate data theft. Instead, the potential for severe reputational damage emerges as a critical concern.

“Picture a scenario where a video surfaces featuring your executive seemingly making controversial remarks on sensitive topics. Such incidents can swiftly trigger a stock market plunge for corporations.

“Despite the substantial risks associated with this threat, the likelihood of such an attack remains considerably low due to the high cost of crafting high-quality deepfakes and the scarcity of skilled attackers proficient in their creation,” Pieters-James said.

“The media should familiarise themselves with the distinctive traits of deepfake videos and maintain a cautious stance toward voicemails and videos received.

“It’s crucial to educate your employees about deepfakes and empower them to identify these manipulations.”

Pieters-James recommended continuous monitoring of darknet resources as a valuable means to gain insights into the deepfake landscape.