Oxford University maths graduate Riley shared "some personal news" in unbranded Twitter and Instagram videos on Saturday (24 November), claming she gets fed the answers to the Countdown numbers game through an earpiece.
Some personal news. I haven’t been totally honest. I’m sorry but it's time I shared something with you... pic.twitter.com/x7JRGhDCtw— Rachel Riley (@RachelRileyRR) November 24, 2018
Many of her almost 600,000 Twitter followers were stunned to hear the news from Riley, who took over from the show's arithmetic icon Carol Vorderman in 2009, aged 22.
One Twitter user wrote: "If Vorderman is behind the camera forcing you to say this at gunpoint, BLINK TWICE!" Another tweeted: "The fact you are honest about it and have the guts to come out and say it is testament to the person you are! Never have anything against honest people. Well done."
However, on Sunday (26 November), HSBC revealed the video had used "deepfake-style technology to steal Riley’s identity" – manipulating her actions and tracking facial movements – as part of a drive to alert consumers of the dangers of digital fraud on Cyber Monday and during the online shopping frenzy leading up to Christmas.
The campaign was produced by Weber Shandwick and That Lot, the London-based social creative agency it acquired in July.
It appears Riley was a willing participant, helping to champion a cause she believes in.
Sorry to put my producer thru 24 hrs of that ?? But I really believe in the messaging. Dont trust everything online! https://t.co/2gbgDvcSFb— Rachel Riley (@RachelRileyRR) November 26, 2018
HSBC UK head of marketing Chris Pitt said: "Consumers cite digital fraud as a key concern. However, we’ve found that understanding about the increasingly sophisticated methods being used by fraudsters is low.
"The use of ‘deepfake’ technology is driving a lot of conversation about how the online world is not always as it seems, but we wanted to show how readily available technology, when in the hands of the wrong people, can have serious consequences."