Hundreds of ads featuring a deep faked Rishi Sunak went up on Facebook - and it's only going to get worse

Rishi Sunak
(Image credit: Sean Aidan Calderbank/Shutterstock)

Adverts featuring a deep faked likeness to UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have appeared across Facebook, raising fears of future scams or threats as a possible election nears.

Some of the adverts show the Prime Minister announcing government investment in a new stock market app launched by Elon Musk.

The adverts then link through to a fake BBC News page promoting investment opportunities in this new app - and of course, it's a scam.

2024, the year of the deep fake?

Recent research conducted by Fenimore Harper showed that in a one month period between December 8 2023 and January 8 2024, the funding poured into promoting these adverts on Facebook amounted to $16,500. 

The source of funding for the adverts originated in countries such as Turkey, Malaysia, the Phillipines and the United States.

The research found that 143 different adverts using Rishi Sunaks deep fake likeness were shown to over 400,000 people on Facebook. Luckily, of this 400,000, the adverts were shown to “less than 0.5 percent of UK users”, according to a spokesperson speaking to The Guardian.

While it seems that the primary incentive for these adverts was monetary gain, it is expected that Prime Minister Sunak will call a general election this year. That means you can expect to see many more deep fakes from key political figures spouting misinformation in attempts by hacktivists and state-sponsored groups to influence voting behavior and the overall outcome of the election.

You should also expect to see a gradual increase in deep-fakes and other misinformation/disinformation in the run up to the US presidential election, as Russia and China look to try and sow divide and mistrust between Democrats and Republicans.

Via Engadget

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Benedict Collins
Staff Writer (Security)

Benedict Collins is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Pro covering privacy and security. Before settling into journalism he worked as a Livestream Production Manager, covering games in the National Ice Hockey League for 5 years and contributing heavily to the advancement of livestreaming within the league. Benedict is mainly focused on security issues such as phishing, malware, and cyber criminal activity, but he also likes to draw on his knowledge of geopolitics and international relations to understand the motives and consequences of state-sponsored cyber attacks.

He has a MA in Security, Intelligence and Diplomacy, alongside a BA in Politics with Journalism, both from the University of Buckingham. His masters dissertation, titled 'Arms sales as a foreign policy tool,' argues that the export of weapon systems has been an integral part of the diplomatic toolkit used by the US, Russia and China since 1945. Benedict has also written about NATO's role in the era of hybrid warfare, the influence of interest groups on US foreign policy, and how reputational insecurity can contribute to the misuse of intelligence.

Outside of work Ben follows many sports; most notably ice hockey and rugby. When not running or climbing, Ben can most often be found deep in the shrubbery of a pub garden.