BTS is a beloved K-Pop group, but they are also a lucrative business that swindlers are using for financial gain.
19-year-old Judy Bae is one of the many teens who has fallen victim to fraud. In December 2019, she received a message on Twitter from a man in his 20s posing as a teen ARMY. He asked her to lend him money to buy BTS albums and merchandise, promising to repay her. Judy Bae wanted to help a fan in need, but in the end, she lost 1 million won ($812 USD) to a scammer.
Judy Bae’s story, unfortunately, is not the only one. In March, a 27-year-old youth counselor named Jung started a community on Twitter to help swindled fans. The majority of the community’s 30 members are underage, and the damages currently total 13 million won ($10,695 USD).
There is a close bond between teenage fans and this makes it easy for swindlers to deceive them, posing as teenagers. Starting this year, I even heard of many similar cases in which swindlers beg for money, saying they are in a bit of a tight spot financially due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Teen fans make appealing targets for scammers, for several reasons. As Jung said, there is trust between teenage fans, which makes them more willing to “lend” money. Many young fans also lack basic knowledge about finances, and they are being increasingly targeted by online money transfer scams.
In South Korea, some financial authorities believe that the country’s lack of mandatory finance education at public schools may be contributing to the rise in swindled teens. According to the Financial Supervisory Service, the number of social media scam postings targetting teens and college students was nine times higher in 2019 than in 2018.
Quite a number of fraud cases here were caused by individuals’ lack of basic knowledge regarding finance.
— Official at the FSC Financial Education Department
Lending money to fellow fans, especially those you have not met in person, is risky and not advisable. If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, contact your local authorities.