Digital Doppelganger Fraud Targeted Famous Artist

A strange tale of an even stranger deepfake is sending shockwaves through the artist community. When a well known artist past away, scammers realized they had an opportunity to make big money on people scrambling to buy his paintings.

Scammers Targeted Fans of The Artist

It began when well known artist Hank Pander passed away in April of 2023. A scammer sent an Instagram message to The Vanport Mosaic, a local nonprofit, posing as Pander’s living son, Arnold Pander and thanking them for their support after his father died.

Laura Forti, the co-founder of The Vanport Mosaic, soon realized it was a hoax due to inconsistencies in the messages, mistyping and other errors. So she reached out to Arnold Pander directly and found out she was communicating with a scammer.

It was then that the scammer proposed selling some of Hank Panders work, all while posing as his son. Forti, thinking she could back the scammer into a corner asked the scammer for “video proof” that he was real.

A Deepfake Created From Videos on YouTube

Thats when things took an even stranger turn. The scammer, sent a deepfake video impersonating Panders other son, Jacob.

The deepfake was convincingly real, however Forti already knew it was a scam so she sent the deepfake to Jacob Pander. He was shocked, realizing that some of his own videos he posted to YouTube were used to train the deepfake.

Pander Investigates And Finds Its A Deep Scam

The scammer created fake Instagram and WhatsApp profiles, pretending to be Pander’s sons. They used photos from the real sons’ accounts and messaged their friends and contacts.

Pander’s sons tried to stop the scammer by contacting Instagram, local law enforcement, and the FBI, but it was hard to get a response. The scammer kept sending messages, asking for payment through Bitcoin or money transfer apps.

At one point, the scammer shared images of paintings they claimed were for sale. They didn’t realize that one of the paintings was actually hanging in The Vanport Mosaic’s office.

Created By Services Like HeyGen?

If you’re wondering how the scammer could create a realistic deepfake video, the answer might be simple – HeyGen, or other cloning services like it.

Using as little as 30 seconds of source video, HeyGen can clone both the image and voice of the person and then be used to create as many deepfake videos as you like.

Check out the video below for how easy deepfakes can be created off of readily available Youtube videos. The first is a deepfake of Pander from the original news reports, and the second is a deepfake of me, I created from my own publically available videos.

Watch The Report Here

You can watch the whole fascinating report here. High end scams are now starting to use deepfakes and these stories are popping up everywhere.