South Korean woman says I love you to ‘Elon Musk’ and loses 70 million won, what’s a romance scam?

By:
on Apr 26, 2024
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  • Local media reports detail how Jeong was duped after the scammer reached out to her on Instagram.
  • This technological manipulation was convincing enough that Jeong dismissed her initial doubts.
  • The popularity of Musk makes him a frequent target for impersonations that lead to financial fraud.

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A South Korean woman, identified only by her pseudonym Jeong Ji-sun, fell victim to a sophisticated romance scam, losing 70 million won (approximately ₹41 lakh) to an individual impersonating Elon Musk using deepfake technology.

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Local media reports detail how Jeong, a self-proclaimed fan of Musk, was duped after the scammer reached out to her on Instagram.

How did it happen?

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Jeong recounted her experience to the broadcaster, describing it as “something like a dream.”

The scammer, posing as Musk, added her on Instagram and engaged her by sharing work-related photos and personal anecdotes about his children.

He claimed to connect with fans randomly, further legitimizing his persona with a fake ID card and a photo at work.

During their interactions, the scammer also discussed high-profile matters, such as potential business expansions in Seoul and Jeju, mentioned during a fictitious meeting with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.

The scam took a more believable turn when Jeong and the supposed Musk had a video call, where the scammer used a deepfake video of Musk to reinforce his identity.

This technological manipulation was convincing enough that Jeong dismissed her initial doubts, especially when the scammer professed his love during their calls.

What is a romance scam?

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Romance scams involve fraudsters who create fake profiles to build online relationships, eventually persuading their victims to send money.

These scammers often use emotional manipulation and feign romantic or intimate interest to exploit their targets.

The use of deepfake technology, which utilizes AI algorithms to create realistic but synthetic representations of people in videos or audio clips, has brought a new dimension to this type of fraud, making it harder to distinguish between real and fake interactions.

Romance scams are on the rise

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This incident is part of a larger trend where scammers leverage the identity of high-profile figures like Elon Musk to execute their schemes.

The popularity of Musk makes him a frequent target for impersonations that lead to financial fraud.

In a related case in 2022, a man in China created TikTok videos impersonating Musk, prompting Musk himself to comment on the challenges of identifying deepfakes.

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