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Korean ‘industry pros’ implicated in $4m K-pop scam

Eleven companies in multiple countries have reportedly been defrauded of a total ₩5bn by scammers posing as Big Hit Entertainment reps

By IQ on 14 Nov 2019

Big Hit Entertainment represents K-pop powerhouse BTS

image © Big Hit Entertainment

Several South Korean industry insiders have been accused of defrauding promoters and investors out of more than ₩5 billion (US$4 million) by posing as representatives of BTS’s management company, Big Hit Entertainment.

According to The Fact (via Allkpop), a total of 11 music companies, primarily small and medium-sized promoters, were targeted by concert professionals ‘K’ and ‘D’, who forged Big Hit contracts and took ‘deposits’ – ranging from ₩150m ($130,000) to ₩1.4bn ($1.2m) – for non-existent BTS shows.

In one typical example, The Fact reports, an Indonesian promoter put down a deposit for a BTS concert due to take place some time between November 2019 and February 2020. The ‘fee’ for the show is listed as US$2.8m, with the number of concertgoers estimated at 50,000.

Other individuals involved in the alleged scam include a famous actor, ‘A’, and their manager, ‘Seok’, who posed to Chinese investors as a Big Hit Entertainment board member.

One of the victims, ‘L’, says: “The manager, ‘Seok’, deceived them by saying that he holds the rights to distribute BTS transportation cards at ‘C Entertainment’, an agency created by him and ‘A’. The Chinese investors believed the stories of the famous Korean actor and his manager and invested about ₩800m [$685,000] in distributing the fake cards.”

“The Chinese investors believed the stories … and invested about ₩800m”

Other victims include companies based in Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong company, reports Soompi, realised they had been scammed after a concert due to take place in the city-state did not go ahead.

‘K’ was reportedly arrested on 9 November and is being held in a detention centre in Seoul. Police believe he has a history of posing as other Korean artists and their representatives, including Exo, Super Junior, Lee Min Ho and Sistar.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Big Hit says the company was unaware the scammers were posing as its employees. “We did not learn about this ‘fake document’ until we received photos of the reports,” it reads. “The contracts depicted in the photos [obtained by The Fact] are fake documents, and have nothing to do with Big Hit Entertainment. When we confirm specific details of such crimes and damages caused by these crimes, we will take legal action.”

The scam appears to be a more sophisticated version of those employed against promoters in Europe, who have been targeted by bogus emails purporting to come from leading booking agents.

 


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