The crime seeing 1,200% growth in South Africa

 ·10 Dec 2023

Deepfakes – digitally manipulated media that seeks to replicate one’s likeness – have skyrocketed across the globe, including in South Africa.

This is according to full-cycle verification platform Sumsub’s third annual Identity Fraud Report, which provides an analysis of fraud across industries and regions based on millions of verification checks across 28 industries and over 2,000,000 fraud cases between 2022 and 2023.

The report said that there has been a 10x increase in the number of deepfakes detected globally, with a  1740% deepfake surge in North America, 780% in Europe and 450% in MEA. The country with the most deepfakes is Spain,

The AI-powered fraud is most prominent in the crypto sector, with 88% of all deepfake cases detected in 2023, followed by fintech (8%).

“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,” said Pavel Goldman-Kalaydin, Head of AI/ML at Sumsub.

“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.”

Amongst African countries, South Africa (19.7%) and Nigeria (11.5%) have seen a higher number of deepfake attacks compared to other African nations.

“Of concern to South Africans is the astounding rise in deepfake frauds by 1,200%,” said Hannes Bezuidenhout, Sumsub’s VP of Sales for Africa.

“Seen against a rise of 450% in identity fraud for the MEA Region, this poses a significant threat and cause for concern.

Bezuidenhout said that creating deepfakes is becoming easier as fraudsters use a person’s genuine document and extract a photo to create a 3D persona.

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

According to the report, the industries most impacted by identity fraud include online media, professional services, healthcare, transportation, and video gaming.

Online media has seen a 274% increase between 2021 and 2023, as large audiences and insufficient regulations allow fraudulent activities, such as fake accounts, engagement manipulation, and the spread of misinformation, to flourish. 

In addition, one of the complex techniques used by fraudsters that have seen growth in 2023 is money mulling, where innocent individuals are recruited to transfer illegally obtained funds to disguise their origin.

Forced verification – where individuals are forced into going through online verifications for the fraudster’s benefit – grew by 305%. Account takeover also grew by 155% over the year.

Overall, according to Sumsub’s findings, the global rate of identity fraud nearly doubled between 2021 and 2023.

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