Deepfake fraud attempts are up 3000% in 2023 — here’s why

Deepfake fraud attempts have increased by a whopping 31 times in 2023 — a  3,000% increase year-on-year.

That’s according to a new report by Onfido, an ID verification unicorn based in London. The company attributes the surge to the growing availability of cheap and simple online tools and generative AI.

Face-swapping apps are the most common example. The most basic versions crudely paste one face on top of another to create a “cheapfake.” More sophisticated systems use AI to morph and blend a source face onto a target, but these require greater resources and skills. 

The simple software, meanwhile, is easy to run and cheap or even free. An array of forgeries can then be simultaneously used in multiple attacks. 

These cheapfakes aim to penetrate facial verification systems, conduct fraudulent transactions, or access sensitive business information. They may be crude, but only one needs to succeed.

By emphasising quantity over quality, the fraudsters target the maximum reward from the minimum effort. 

Research suggests that this is their preferred approach. Onfido found that “easy” or less sophisticated fraud accounts for 80.3% of all attacks in 2023 —  7.4% higher than last year. 

Graph showing the volume of deepfake attempts over time. Credit: Onfido