The man on screen looked like the real Vitali Klitschko. But it wasn’t him. Berlin’s governing mayor, Franziska Giffey, was caught on Friday by a scammer who posed as Kiev mayor Klitschko.
“To all appearances it was a deep fake,” said Senate spokeswoman Lisa Frerichs. According to the participants, the video call lasted half an hour. Then it was canceled. Now the state security of the State Criminal Police Office is investigating to clarify the background.
The Senate Chancellery had announced a meeting with the mayor of Kyiv in the afternoon. The Ukrainian side asked for it.
The date was agreed via the protocol department of the Senate Chancellery in early June. It is not yet known through which channels it came about.
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At 5 p.m. Giffey wanted to video call Klitschko for half an hour. At 6:45 p.m., the Berlin Senate Chancellery announced that the conversation had been broken off. “The course of the conversation and the setting of the topic aroused distrust on the Berlin side. The conversation was broken off prematurely,” was announced on Twitter.
There was a suspicion that the interlocutor was not Vitali Klitschko, it said. “A conversation with Ambassador Andriy Melnyk has now confirmed this afterwards.”
According to the interviewees, the conversation took place via video. A photo obtained by the Tagesspiegel shows a person who looks like Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko.
A spokeswoman told the Tagesspiegel that the fraudster had inquired about the situation in Berlin and about the care of the refugees in the first quarter of an hour. Then questions came that would have made “suspicious”. Berlin was supposed to help Ukrainian men leave Berlin to fight in Ukraine.
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“Or, for example, the question of whether Ukrainian refugees in Germany would obtain social benefits by fraud.” The conversation then broke off for technical reasons.
Berlin’s Governing Mayor commented on the process as follows: “Unfortunately, it is part of the reality that the war is being waged with all means – including online, in order to undermine trust with digital methods and to discredit Ukraine’s partners and allies.”
Berlin had taken in a particularly large number of Ukrainian refugees in Germany. In the meantime, 285,000 war refugees have arrived in Berlin. Some of these people have traveled on or returned to Ukraine.
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However, up to 100,000 people could be in the city. There are no exact numbers. According to estimates, more than 60,000 are cared for by the job centers.
It was still unclear on Friday evening whether the man in the video was a double or whether facial filter software was used.