Elon Musk used in fake AI videos to promote financial scam

Elon Musk used in fake AI videos to promote financial scam

What was claimed

The verdict

Australians can “get rich quick” by investing in Elon Musk’s financial scheme, Quantum AI.

False. Videos using artificial intelligence technology to show Elon Musk promoting a financial venture are designed to mislead people into investing in a financial scam.

Elon Musk in black T shirt with caption and QuantamAI logo against black background AI doctored footage of business magnate Elon Musk is being used in social media to lure investors to a fraudulent stock trading platform.

By Lulu Graham

American business magnate Elon Musk is the latest prominent figure to feature in doctored videos that use artificial intelligence technology to promote a financial scam.

The videos posted on Facebook use authentic footage of Mr Musk dubbed with an artificially generated voice to make it appear as if he is inviting people to invest in a stock trading platform called Quantum AI.

“By joining us early on, you can earn up to $3,000 by selling shares with high returns and minimal risk,” Mr Musk appears to say in the video. “This tool will make you financially independent in the shortest possible time.” 

The fake video, which has amassed more than 27,000 views, uses authentic footage of Mr Musk speaking on the Real Talk with Zuby podcast. During the podcast episode Mr Musk does not mention Quantum AI. 

Another fake video, posted under multiple accounts, appears to show a 9 News Australia report on Quantum AI, featuring Mr Musk promoting the investment scheme.

The supposed 9 News Australia presenter says, in an American accent, “Australians will no longer have to work,” adding that “Elon also said that every resident of the country will be able to receive an income of $5,700 a day.”

The video then cuts to a clip of Mr Musk where he purportedly says: “The latest platform, Quantum AI, will help people get rich quick, not work for every penny.”

He appears to name Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates as “prominent shareholders” before the reporter directs viewers to “make a minimum investment of $400” on the Quantum AI website. 

This video also features authentic footage that has been manipulated with artificial intelligence. 

It shows 9 News Queensland presenter Mia Glover introducing a story about police being assaulted, along with footage of Mr Musk speaking at the 2023 World Government Summit.  In both cases, their voices have been dubbed over with artificially generated voices. Ms Glover, for instance, is speaking with an American accent instead of her native Australian accent.

Furthermore, if the viewer watches the 1:29 minute video through to the end, it shows the message, “Learn more 9news.com.au”, which is the real address of the 9 News website. However, the link actually takes viewers to an imitation website with a different URL

The imitation website features a report, “Tesla launches its newest platform Quantum AI™ - aims to help families become wealthier”, under the byline Jonathan Ponciano – which is also the name of an associate editor of Forbes magazine. 

The fake website shows today’s date and the current time as of when the viewer opens it, but the time ceases to progress, and all the news links embedded lead to more promotions of the Quantum AI scam.

RMIT University’s Associate Dean of Artificial Intelligence, Professor John Thangarajah, told RMIT FactLab there is growing concern over AI-generated content being used in financial scams.

“This is the current equivalent of email scams that trick you with text. These scams elevate it with audio/visual elements,” he said.

Specifically, in both AI-generated videos, Mr Musk’s lips appear blurred which, according to the eSafety Commissioner, can be an indication of deepfake technology. In the videos, Mr Musk’s lips are out of sync with the robotic audio. MIT project Detect DeepFake labels this as another sign to look for when analysing if voice cloning has been used. 

Voice cloning is when a computer program is used to generate a synthetic, adaptable copy of a person's voice. Readily available software allows a user to copy a voice then use it to read whatever text the user creates.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s ScamWatch notes that celebrity endorsement investment scams are common. 

FactLab also previously investigated videos of Gina Rinehart and Richard Branson promoting a get-rich-quick scheme and found them to be fake.

According to the ACCC, Australians reported losing $3.1 billion to scams in 2022, which was an 80% increase on 2021 figures. 

Information on how to identify investment scams can be found on the ACCC ScamWatch website.


The verdict

False. Videos that show billionaire Elon Musk promoting a financial venture called Quantum AI use doctored footage and artificially generated audio to induce Facebook users to send money to scammers.


15 August 2023


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