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FBI alerts public about 'deepfakes' in cybersex blackmailing schemes

The FBI has issued a public caution concerning the malicious use of “deepfakes” to produce counterfeit explicit content for harassment or extortion purposes.

The statement released by the agency on Monday underlined how technological advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have amplified the quality, versatility, and accessibility of AI-generated content. Reports indicate that victims have found their images or videos manipulated into explicit content.

According to the FBI, malefactors usually source content from a target's social media account, the internet, or the victims themselves to generate explicit content closely resembling the victims. This content is then disseminated on social media platforms, internet forums, or adult websites.

Perpetrators are generally driven by the desire to gather more content, gain financially, or harass others, the agency elucidated.

The FBI disclosed that it has recorded a surge in sextortion reports since April, where victims are pressured into producing explicit content under the threat of public exposure. Typically, these wrongdoers demand payment or real explicit images or videos from the victims as a way to prevent the posting of the manipulated content.

The agency stressed the need for caution when posting or sharing content online, especially on social media, dating apps, and other online sites.

“Even though images and videos may seem harmless when posted or shared, they could be used by malicious actors for criminal pursuits. The advancement in content creation technology and easy access to personal images online provide new avenues for these actors to identify and exploit victims,” the FBI warned. “This makes them susceptible to humiliation, harassment, extortion, financial loss, and prolonged re-victimization.”

The FBI further advised the public to keep track of their children’s online activities, frequently search for their own information online to stay updated on what is publicly accessible, implement privacy settings on their social media accounts, and use secure passwords and multi-factor authentication to secure their accounts.

People should also exercise discretion when accepting friend requests, avoid sending money or valuable items to strangers, investigate platforms’ privacy policies, and be vigilant when interacting with familiar accounts exhibiting unexpected behavior, as they might be compromised.

This warning is particularly timely, as last week, AI experts and industry leaders highlighted the urgent need to address the risks associated with the proliferation of AI, declaring that it should be a "global priority."


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