Darkweb marketplaces offering deepfake videos at up to $20,000 per minute conference hears

Darkweb marketplaces offering deepfake videos at up to $20,000 per minute conference hears
DigiDoug, a deepfake created by Doug Roble, debuted during his TED talk in 2019. / Steve Jurvetson, cc-by-sa 2.0
By bne IntelIiNews May 10, 2023

Darkweb marketplaces are offering deepfake videos with prices varying from $300 to $20,000 per minute, an audience heard at the Kaspersky Cyber Security Weekend–META 2023 event held in Kazakhstan’s commercial capital Almaty.

Vladislav Tushkanov, a lead data scientist at Moscow-founded cybersecurity and anti-virus provider Kaspersky Lab, was quoted by trade media as addressing the dangers of deepfakes, synthetic media digitally manipulated to replace a person’s likeness convincingly with that of another, leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).

“$300/per minute is the starting price for a deepfake on the darknet,” was cited as saying by iTWeb, adding: “The higher limit was discovered to be about $20 000. “It’s important to remember that deepfakes are a threat not only to businesses, but also to individual users: they can spread misinformation, be used for scams, or to impersonate someone without consent.”

In June 2022, the FBI issued an official warning that deepfakes were being used to apply for remote jobs. This, Tushkanov was also reported as saying, means the technology has evolved to such a degree that it can be deployed online, not like in a pre-recorded video, but just like on a Zoom call.

Deepfakes can serve for various malicious activities, including fraud, blackmail and the thieving of sensitive information. Kaspersky researchers analysed multiple darknet marketplaces and underground forums that offer deepfake video and audio creation for nefarious activities. The prices associated with these services depend on the complexity and quality of the final product.

Law enforcement agencies expect cybercriminals to attempt to expand illicit use of generative AI videos to defraud individuals, organisations or companies. For instance, a video can be fabricated to impersonate a CEO requesting a wire transfer or approving a payment, enabling the stealing of corporate funds. Deepfakes can also be used to create compromising content on individuals, which can then be utilised for extortion purposes or to extract sensitive information. 

Additionally, cybercriminals can manipulate public opinion by spreading false information through deepfake videos, potentially influencing the outcome of elections or public discourse.

On May 8, German public media outlet DW reported that a video shown at an election campaign rally by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which seemed to link his main rival to a Kurdish group designated as terrorist, had been exposed as fake, although this particular video did not qualify as a deepfake.

Deepfake technology can also be employed to bypass verification in payment services by producing realistic fake videos or audio recordings that imitate legitimate account owners. This enables fraudsters to deceive payment service providers and gain unauthorised access to accounts and associated funds.