Deepfake targets Ukraine's first lady Olena Zelenksa with false claim she bought Bugatti

A new deepfake Video falsely claiming that Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, bought a $4.8 million Bugatti sports car has been viewed millions of times on social media, CBS News has learned. The video is part of a Russian disinformation campaign aimed at undermining Western support for Ukraine, investigators said.

CBS News has determined that the video created using artificial intelligence. It shows a man claiming to be an employee of a French luxury car dealership sharing “exclusive” information about the fabricated sale. The man doesn’t move his neck, rarely blinks, and barely moves his head — telltale signs that he’s being manipulated by AI.

Screenshot of a deepfake targeting Ukraine's first lady, Olena Zelenska.

CBS News


The video was amplified by Russian disinformation networks on social media platforms, and has been viewed more than 20 million times across X, Telegram and TikTok. X and Telegram did not respond to a request for comment. A TikTok spokesperson told CBS News that their policy does not allow misinformation that could cause harm and the company will remove content that violates these guidelines.

Although it is not clear who made the video, an early version of it exists popped up in an article on a French website called Verite Cachee — or in English, Hidden Truth — on July 1. Researchers from the threat intelligence company Recorded Future linked the website to a Russian disinformation network they call CopyCop, which uses fake news websites and AI tools to publish false claims as part of influence campaigns.

The article included a fabricated invoice claiming to be from Bugatti to further mislead readers. Bugatti Paris — which is run by Autofficina Parigi, a Car Lovers Group company — said it had filed a criminal complaint against people who shared the video and falsified the invoice. Car Lovers Group said the invoice is not theirs and has errors that show it was fabricated, including missing required legal details and an incorrect price for the vehicle.

Russian disinformation networks have spread similar false claims about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his family over the past year, including the false claim that he purchased two luxury yachts for millions of dollars and the false claim that Zelenska purchased more than $1 million worth of jewelry from Cartier in New York City.

Clément Briens, a senior threat intelligence analyst for cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, told CBS News that false narratives about corruption are being created to undermine Western support for Ukraine and “undermine trust in its leaders, their institutions and international alliances.”

The lies play on existing to assure and documented reports of corruption in Ukraine, researchers say.

Darren Linvill, a Russian disinformation expert and professor at Clemson University in South Carolina, said the false claims “are formulated for a very specific audience that is willing to listen to it, ready to hear it, ready to repeat it.”

Linvill said the stories have gained traction online despite being debunked — likely due to the cost and status of the brand used by the network. “I think Bugatti has something to do with it,” he said.

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