On July 24 KDramaStars reported that a con artist had stolen Lee Jong Suk's personal seal and was making lucrative contracts without the actor's permission. The unnamed con artist used the seal to sign contracts and lure investors into giving him large amounts of money.
The con artist then created fake bank accounts in Lee Jong Suk's name, which he could withdraw money from. The theft was reported to the police and fortunately, a suspect was arrested.
Lee Jong Suk is not the only Hallyu star reported to have fallen victim to identify theft. Con artists have allegedly targeted Park Hae Jin, Lee Min Ho and Kim Soo Hyun, looking to make money off their fame. The fraud cases involved people pretending to be managers and making deals they are not authorized to make, using fake identification.Park Hae Jin's agency, WM Entertainment, cautioned that people should be wary of people claiming to represent their artists. They should contact the agency directly and not deal with middlemen. According to the Korean news portal Nate.com, a con artist pretending to represent Park Hae Jin in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan received a substantial amount of investment dollars to start a shopping mall.
"We dispatched our lawyer since there was actual damages such as a shopping mall investment money in this conman's schemes," said the WM representative.
Earlier this year the agency also cautioned that some of the SNS accounts created in the actor's name were not created by him.
"SNS accounts impersonating Park Hae Jin have recently shot up, which is puzzling. There's no SNS he uses besides his official accounts, so please pay attention, so that you are not fooled."
In 2014 con artists pretending to be managers allegedly targeted both Lee Min Ho and Kim Soo Hyun. The scheme was uncovered before any damage could be done, but the trend is probably not over. As Hallyu stars grow in international popularity, con artists will probably continue to seek ways to cash in on their success.
Management agencies will aggressively pursue such cases of fraud.
Lee Jong Suk's agency released the following statement when his identity theft was made public.
"As Lee Jong Suk's management agency, we have confirmed that the perpetrator used Lee Jong Suk's personal information and forged documents, gathering investors with hundreds of millions of won. As soon as we realized this, we filed a case with the police against the perpetrator for forgery of documents and fraud, and he was arrested on July 22. We plan to follow through with this case to the end without showing leniency.
We hope that something like this will not happen to any other celebrities."