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Minister of Energy filed a criminal complaint for attempted online fraud

22 January 2024

Minister of Energy, Sebastian Burduja, filed a criminal complaint on Monday for an attempted online fraud (deepfake), through which an attempt was made to deceive Romanians, the ministry announced on Monday.

“Today I filed a criminal complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice against the use of deepfake technology to deceive citizens into purchasing false investment services in the field of energy. These facts represent serious crimes, not only against the individual, but also against of Romania’s national security. On January 19, 2024, a deepfake video was posted on a fake Facebook page named “HTPPY” in which I was represented falsely promoting a non-existent investment scheme of the ENEL company. The video used fraudulently used my image and my voice to convince the public to invest in a fictitious platform. This action not only deceived the public, but also defamed my reputation and the institution of the Ministry of Energy,” said the minister, according to a press release from the institution quoted by Agerpres.

Deepfake technology, which uses artificial intelligence to create fake content, is becoming a growing threat to constitutional democracy by spreading disinformation, Burduja states.

“As a former Minister of Research, Innovation and Digitization, I had the honor of contributing to the adoption of the Cyber Security Law, which officially recognized this threat (according to letter p of Article 3 of Law No. 51/1991). I strongly appeal to all citizens to remain vigilant and avoid deepfake traps as well as fictitious sites asking for financial transfers.It is crucial to be aware that in the energy sector, when the sale of shares or the issuance of bonds is announced, it is always done through official channels and safe, such as the Stock Exchange or other recognized financial institutions,” the official emphasized.

According to him, no serious company will request payments through insecure electronic channels or through links placed in the comments of posts on social networks. These methods are often used by criminals to defraud and illegally obtain funds from uninformed individuals.

“Therefore, it is essential that all citizens always verify the authenticity and legitimacy of any request for investment or financial transfers. In this digital age, accurate and verified information is the most powerful tool we have to combat fraud and protect ourselves protect personal finances. I encourage you to use only the official communication channels of companies and avoid responding to payment requests through insecure or unconventional methods. I also urge everyone to follow the awareness campaigns organized by the National Directorate of Cyber Security and the other institutions with attributions in the field of cyber security,” the minister added.

The Ministry of Energy, in collaboration with state companies in the energy sector and all other institutions involved, monitors any online disinformation campaign aimed at deceiving citizens and endangering Romania’s energy security.

“We will promptly notify the criminal investigation bodies, which now have the necessary legal framework to quickly identify such crimes,” added the official.

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