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Don’t trust your eyes: Martin Lewis’ deep-fake scam advert

A video of Martin Lewis is circulating, where the money saving expert talks at length about an investment from Elon Musk that could be a great opportunity for UK residents. It looks and sounds exactly like the financial expert - and it is completely fake.

The scam hit the news because the advert was so completely convincing; there was nothing to indicate in the video itself that you’re not watching the real Martin Lewis talking about a real investment opportunity. Martin Lewis has described the scam as ‘dangerous’ and has threatened Facebook, the social media platform where the video was promoted, with legal action.

‘The first deep-fake scam advert’

In an interview for Good Morning Britain regarding the video, Martin Lewis states that, ‘This is a deep fake…as far as I know [this] is the first deep-fake scam advert…it’s an absolutely terrifying development.’

Martin goes on to say, ‘this is still only the early stages of the technology and they are only going to get better.’ Martin also warns that, ‘Within a year or two…the interview that we’re doing now would be manipulated so that you would be asking questions and I would be answering questions about those fake adverts.’

When did technology get so terrifying?

This may seem like an episode of Black Mirror, but Martin Lewis’ warning about the potential for future deep-fake videos is, in reality, very likely. Technology and artificial intelligence is advancing incredibly quickly, and that means that the techniques scammers and hackers are using are becoming more and more convincing. 

It is a popular myth that only vulnerable people fall victim to phishing emails and scam adverts. Although it is true that the older you are, the more likely you are to fall victim to a scam, technological literacy doesn’t mean that you’re immune; people under the age of 20 who reported fraud went up by 116% from 2019 to 2020. Additionally, 78% of all online fraud starts online. Regardless of your age, tech proficiency and level of vulnerability, you can fall victim to one of these scams.

Thanks to social media, scammers are able to access a wealth of video and audio content that they can use to create content which looks and sounds like someone legitimate. Whether it’s a business or public figure you trust like Martin Lewis, or a friend and family member as we’ve seen in recent spoofing cases, everything can be digitally faked. 

How can you keep yourself safe?

It is more important than ever to do your research when it comes to advertisements and posts like the Martin Lewis video. If you’re considering investing in an opportunity that you’ve seen on social media, or if you’ve had a phone call from someone you know where they’re requesting money, bank details or personal information, take a step back and fact check the information. A quick internet search disproves the Martin Lewis video as a scam, and a quick call to your friend or family member could disprove the phone call you’ve received. 

Just like phishing emails, deep-fake audios and videos are designed to get you to panic, or rush into a decision that you haven’t thought through. Take a step back, think things through, and hold in your mind that just because something looks or sounds real, it doesn’t mean that it is.

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