Deepfakes of Anushka Sharma, Aishwarya Bachchan used to promote Telegram scam

By: Rahul Adhikari
December 11 2023

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Deepfakes of Anushka Sharma, Aishwarya Bachchan used to promote Telegram scam

Social media posts showing Anushka Sharma and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan promoting a Telegram channel. (Source: Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict Fake

The viral video is a deepfake created using old videos of the Bollywood actors. They have not promoted any such financial scheme on Telegram.

Claim ID b3fa6207

There has been a noticeable uptick in the number of deepfake videos circulating on social media, especially those involving celebrities. Generating a decent deepfake has become easier with the development of technology, allowing more and more people to produce such videos – be it with malicious intent, for promotional activities, or just for entertainment. 

What is the claim?

One such video, featuring Bollywood actors Anushka Sharma and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, has gone viral on social media. The actors can be heard talking about an investment opportunity. In the first part of the video, Anushka purportedly says, “I’m Anushka Sharma, you know me. I have independently achieved phenomenal results in the film, television, and business industries, but today, I’m revealing to you information about an investment project that will help all Indian countries achieve financial independence and material prosperity. Yes, girl, I have already invested around 20,000 rupees in Ruchi Bhalla’s project, and in one day, she made a profit of 100,000 from him. Just understand you don’t have to work anymore. Take care of your family. This is an incredible project for all women who dream of living in material well-being (sic).”

After Anushka’s bit, a Telegram messenger channel's name and profile photo briefly appear on the screen before Aishwarya purportedly shares her experience: “It really works. This is your opportunity. I invite you to join, but I also caution you that the number of available places for participants is extremely limited. My advice is to follow the link and join Ruchi Bhalla’s channel and tell her that you want to improve your financial situation. Hurry up, she is waiting for you (sic).”

An archived version of the viral post can be accessed here.

Screenshot of the viral Facebook video. (Source: Facebook/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, the video is a deepfake created using artificial intelligence.

What did we find?

We conducted a reverse image search of keyframes from the video featuring Anushka and Aishwarya. The results led to the original videos where the actors can be heard saying something completely different. The original videos have been altered to make deepfakes promoting what is most likely a financial scam.

Anushka Sharma's clip

The actor's segment in the viral video has been extracted from an interview published on Zee Movies Hindi’s YouTube channel in 2020. Anushka had appeared on the Komal Nahata show called "New Age Women." The actor can be seen wearing the same pink dress, holding a white cup, and sitting on the same sofa against the same background as seen in the viral video. In the original interview, she discussed her career and personal life but did not mention the content presented in the viral video. The deepfake used a portion of this interview, altering it significantly.

Comparison between the viral video and the original video. (Source: Facebook/YouTube/Modified by Logically Facts)

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's clip

The deepfake used footage from her interview at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival with Elle magazine. In the video, the actor is seen standing while wearing a pink dress, with the L'Oréal Paris logo visible behind her. This frame exactly matched one from the viral video. The original interview focused on women's representation in cinema, not on finance or investment.

Comparison between the viral video and the original video. (Source: Facebook/YouTube/Modified by Logically Facts)

The artificial voices in the deepfake, while similar to Anushka's and Aishwarya's, show discrepancies in accent and pronunciation. The mouth and lip movements also appeared unnatural, indicative of AI manipulation.

The Telegram channel

During our investigation into the 'Ruchi Bhalla' Telegram channel, we discovered that its administrator frequently posts unverified details about 'money-making' opportunities. These posts include what seem to be Bhalla's personal financial statements, accompanied by screenshots of conversations with alleged customers.

The channel also features multiple images of a woman, claimed to be Bhalla, at various hotels, resorts, and restaurants. Furthermore, several Facebook pages with Bhalla’s name were identified, all sharing the same profile picture as that on the Telegram channel. 

Screenshots of the images posted on the Telegram channel. (Source: Telegram/Modified by Logically Facts)

Using the FaceCheck software, we traced the images back to the Instagram account of a Dubai-based vlogger. The account, under the name “Dubai Blogger” and the username “hana.a.balushi,” belongs to Hanaa Albalushi, a lifestyle influencer. Her Snapchat profile confirms her identity. Many videos and photos from her account have been reposted on the Telegram channel. Logically Facts has contacted Albalushi for further details.

The image of Hanaa Albalushi is used as the display picture of the Telegram channel (left), and a screenshot of her Instagram bio is shown on the right. (Source: Telegram/Modified by Logically Facts)

Logically Facts also contacted the phone number listed on the channel and spoke with an individual named Nitin, who claimed to be an assistant to 'Ruchi Bhalla'. He stated that Bhalla is based in Dubai and operates her business from Mexico. When inquired about Bhalla’s social media presence for authenticity, Nitin stated that she does not maintain any social media accounts.

Nitin further explained that the channel's operators invest in bitcoin and options trading, with customers allegedly earning returns based on their investments. He shared an investment return list, asserting that returns would be credited within 40-50 minutes post-investment. On questioning the feasibility of such rapid returns, he attributed it to the constant fluctuations in the options trading and bitcoin markets.

Screenshot of the investment return list. (Source: Ruchi Bhalla Telegram channel)

While Logically Facts couldn't independently confirm the accuracy of the claims made by this channel, the utilization of a vlogger’s images as 'Ruchi Bhalla', coupled with the use of manipulated videos for promotion, casts doubt on its legitimacy. Our findings strongly suggest that it is a fraudulent scheme designed to swindle money.

The verdict

The viral video is a deepfake created by editing unrelated interview footage of actors Anushka Sharma and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. The content in the original interviews confirms that they did not endorse or promote any Telegram channel, as suggested in the deepfake.

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