Ubaid Zargar

Nora Fatehi’s deepfake turns out to be an HDFC collab

The dancer has cleared the air on an ‘unknown’ app using her image and likeness for promotions.

A week ago, Nora Fatehi took to Instagram to express shock and dismay over a brand using her deepfake for promotions. The brand, named Lulumelon, was advertising a nearly “100% off” end-of-season sale in a video featuring Fatehi. 

“Shocked! THIS IS NOT ME” said the Bollywood dancer in an Instagram story, addressing the promotional deepfake from a brand. But what do you know, the whole charade was a collaboration between Fatehi and HDFC, who has just added to their ‘What the fraud’ series. 

What the Fraud is an ad campaign by HDFC that aims to build awareness about financial fraud. The campaign features ‘Vigil Aunty’, a superhero played by a saree-clad woman who takes on financial crimes.

In its latest episode, the series features Nora Fatehi and Vigil Aunty, discussing the rise and prevalence of deepfakes- the new menace in the fraud world. The ad film sees the two break down the imminent threat AI poses to the advertising community, and the consumers in general. 

As per Fatehi, the entire ‘Lulumelon’ brand was an HDFC creation and was shared across the internet to lure people in. Mirroring the tactics employed by fraudulent entities to exploit the trust associated with established names, the team selected the well-known brand and coined 'Lulumelon.' Leveraging AI technology, Vigil Aunty was made to closely resemble and sound like Nora (with her consent), forming the foundation of the elaborate prank.

The creation of the virtual counterpart involved adjusting facial features, proportions, and incorporating Nora's voice into the AI model, with post-processing techniques further enhancing the video's quality.

In a bid to elevate the deception, HDFC created multiple social media handles and diverse website domains like lulumelon.in, lulumelon.sk, all built to emulate the online characteristics of fraudulent schemes and to make the whole schtick stand out. It was only when people visited these websites, that the whole thing was explained to them.

As intrigued shoppers landed on the ‘Lulumelon’ websites, Nora exposed the deceptive nature of the promotions, disowning her photos and videos circulating online. A pop-up video, part of the What The Fraud (WTF) episode, revealed the true nature of the campaign.

The idea is that consumers should run a background check on any ‘too good to be true’ campaigns or sales that they may come across. The larger brand campaign is about equipping people with a basic sense of financial fraud, and the way to prevent them.

The previous renditions of the series include episodes with popular crime show celebrities Anup Soni (from Crime Patrol), and Shivaji Satam (from CID).

In the past few months, we’ve seen deepfakes of prominent actors such as Alia Bhatt and Rashmika Mandana, or even veteran cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar go viral. The shock factor of these viral videos has even prompted the government to take cognisance. 

Last year in November, The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) issued advisories to social media firms over 'deepfakes', notifying them that they are legally obliged under IT Act 2000 and IT Rules 2021, to remove such content from their platforms within 24 hours.

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