Scammers created a deepfake of top Binance exec to steal crypto funds

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A new high-end cryptocurrency scam is using AI-powered deepfakes to scam victims out of their money. 

For a crypto start-up, having their tokens listed on global hub Binance is typically one of its initial major goals, giving  them much-needed legitimacy, as well as exposure to a huge number of cryptocurrency traders and holders. In turn, this usually results in an increase in the token’s price and consequently, gives the project even more legitimacy, and exposure to an even bigger audience.

But getting listed on Binance is no simple task, as the company is very careful who it chooses (among other things, due to the fact that it’s not allowed to list securities), so the process is sometimes long and quite painstaking. But more importantly - it costs money.

Faking identities

A fraudster (or a group), well-aware of the process, went on the hunt for such projects. Using artificial intelligence, they created a deepfake of Binance chief communications officer (CCO) Patrick Hillmann, and used it on multiple video calls with potential listing candidates, all with the goal of having them pay for the “listing”.

“It turns out that a sophisticated hacking team used previous news interviews and TV appearances over the years to create a “deep fake” of me,” Hillmann said in a Binance blog post. “Other than the 15 pounds that I gained during COVID being noticeably absent, this deep fake was refined enough to fool several highly intelligent crypto community members.”

Hillmann discovered the identity theft scheme after one of the victims reached out to thank him for all his help in getting the project listed. As it turns out, Hillmann is not involved in the listing process, at all.

He did not say which projects got duped, or how much money was lost. After all, Binance doesn’t have a fixed fee for these things but rather goes for whatever number the project is comfortable with. “Show your willingness to contribute to social impact,” the company says.


Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.