In the wake of a digital age propelled by technological advancements, South Africa finds itself embroiled in a concerning surge of deepfake incidents, a phenomena mirrored across the global landscape. According to the latest insights from Sumsub’s comprehensive Identity Fraud Report, which meticulously analyzed millions of verification checks and over 2,000,000 fraud cases between 2022 and 2023, the proliferation of deepfakes has seen an exponential rise, warranting urgent attention and action.
Sumsub’s report revealed an alarming surge in deepfake occurrences globally, marking a tenfold increase in their detection. The numbers are staggering, with a 1740% surge in North America, 780% in Europe, and 450% in the Middle East and Africa (MEA). Spain stands out as the country grappling with the highest frequency of deepfake incidents.
Deepfakes, the digital manipulations that mimic one’s identity using artificial intelligence, have infiltrated various sectors, with the crypto industry bearing the brunt, detecting 88% of all deepfake cases in 2023, followed closely by fintech at 8%.
Pavel Goldman-Kalaydin, Sumsub’s Head of AI/ML, emphasized, “The ascent of artificial intelligence has reshaped the landscape of fraud, serving as a potent tool for both those seeking anti-fraud measures and those perpetrating identity fraud. Our statistics underscore a distressing tenfold surge in AI-generated deepfakes, paving the way for rampant identity theft, scams, and extensive misinformation campaigns.”
South Africa and Nigeria are witnessing higher rates of deepfake attacks compared to their African counterparts, with South Africa experiencing a staggering 1,200% surge in deepfake fraud. Hannes Bezuidenhout, Sumsub’s VP of Sales for Africa, voiced concern over this trend amidst a 450% rise in identity fraud within the MEA region, highlighting the impending threat and the need for heightened vigilance.
Bezuidenhout highlighted the increasing simplicity with which fraudsters create deepfakes, extracting genuine photos from individuals’ documents to construct 3D personas. He warned against the peril posed by providers failing to update their deepfake detection technologies, underscoring the criticality of modernizing these systems for effective anti-fraud measures.
The impact of identity fraud extends across various industries, with online media, professional services, healthcare, transportation, and video gaming among the hardest hit. Online media has experienced a staggering 274% surge in identity fraud cases between 2021 and 2023, attributed to vast audiences and inadequate regulatory frameworks fostering fraudulent activities like fake accounts, engagement manipulation, and the dissemination of misinformation.
Furthermore, sophisticated techniques like ‘money mulling,’ a method where unwitting individuals are coerced into transferring unlawfully obtained funds to obscure their origin, have gained traction in 2023.
Forced verification instances, where individuals are manipulated into undergoing online verifications for the benefit of fraudsters, have surged by 305%. Account takeovers also increased by 155% over the year, underscoring the multifaceted nature of identity fraud schemes.
In Sumsub’s comprehensive findings, the global incidence of identity fraud nearly doubled between 2021 and 2023, signaling an urgent need for concerted efforts to combat this escalating threat.
The rise of deepfakes and the surging rates of identity fraud serve as a clarion call for South Africa to fortify its defenses, update technological infrastructures, and institute robust measures to safeguard against these pervasive digital menaces, securing the integrity of identities and the trust in digital systems crucial for societal progress.