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WPP CEO Mark Read targeted by deepfake AI scam

WPP CEO Mark Read targeted by deepfake AI scam

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Mark Read (pictured), the chief executive officer of advertising agency WPP, has been the target of a deepfake scam that involved an artificial intelligence (AI) voice clone. 

The scammers reportedly created a WhatsApp account using a publicly available image of the CEO and set up a Microsoft Teams meeting that appeared to be with him and another senior WPP executive, according to Financial Times.

During the meeting, the scammers reportedly used an AI voice clone of the executive and YouTube videos of them. They impersonated Read off-camera using the meeting's chat function. 

The target of the scam was an "agency leader'" where the individual was asked to set up a new business in an attempt to solicit money and personal details, according to The Guardian

Don't miss: Study: AI-powered deepfakes see 1530% increased usage in APAC

The scam was reportedly unsuccessful. 

“Thanks to the vigilance of our people, including the executive concerned, the incident was prevented," said a WPP spokesperson. 

In recent years, deepfakes have seen a rise. In the APAC region alone, deepfakes have grown by average of 1530% from 2022, posing a threat to cyber security if the technology is misused. This is according to a study by Sumsub in December 2023. 

The study highlighted that the top five industries with the highest percentage of deepfake fraud included online media, professional services, healthcare, transportation and video gaming in descending order.

In May 2023, it was also reported that WPP and computing company NVIDIA will be developing an artificial intelligence (AI) content engine set to enable creative teams to produce high-quality commercial content at a faster and more efficient pace and at scale. 

This will allow its clients to reach consumers in highly personalised and engaging ways, while preserving the quality, accuracy and fidelity of their company’s brand identity, products and logos.

“Generative AI is changing the world of marketing at an incredible speed,” said Read.

“Our partnership with NVIDIA gives WPP a unique competitive advantage through an AI solution that is available to clients nowhere else in the market today. This new technology will transform the way that brands create content for commercial use, and cements WPP’s position as the industry leader in the creative application of AI for the world’s top brands.”

Photo courtesy WPP, website

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Related articles:  
Study: 50% of consumers can tell if copies are AI-generated 
CEOs, CFOs, need to build trust in AI at work, says insights report 
Singapore to develop tools to detect deepfakes and reduce online risk

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