Korean woman loses $50,000 after falling for fake Elon Musk

Korean woman loses $50,000 after falling for fake Elon MuskKorean woman loses $50,000 after falling for fake Elon Musk
via KBS 추적60분
Carl Samson
23 days ago
A Korean fan of Elon Musk was duped into transferring thousands of dollars to a scammer who pretended to be the billionaire using artificial intelligence.
Key points:
  • The victim lost a total of 70 million won ($50,800) in the scheme.
  • Fraudsters are increasingly using AI technologies to create convincing impersonations, enhancing their ability to deceive.
  • Awareness and prevention strategies are needed to combat romance scams, which have grown in both sophistication and frequency in South Korea.
The details:
  • The victim recently shared her story on KBS’ “In-Depth 60 Minutes.” She said she was first contacted by the scammer on Instagram last July 17.

  • As “Musk,” the con artist tried to convince the victim through personal details, sending photos of his supposed ID card and himself at work. He also talked about taking a helicopter to work at Tesla and SpaceX, his children visiting SpaceX on weekends and contacting fans randomly “to clear his mind.”
  • When asked about Musk’s April 2023 meeting with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, the scammer had an answer. “Yoon talked about ‘Let’s establish Gigafactories in Seoul and Jeju,’” the victim recalled them saying.
  • While initially skeptical, the victim was swayed after a video call that apparently showed a Musk deepfake. During the conversation, the impersonator told her, “I love you, you know?”
  • The scammer eventually invited the victim to invest, sending her a bank account that supposedly belonged to a Korean employee. Despite her doubts, she transferred 70 million won ($50,800) in several installments in August. 
  • The scheme was uncovered after the scammer sent an audio file that was proven to be generated by AI. A cryptocurrency exchange platform that they had recommended also turned out to be a phishing site.
The big picture:
  • Romance scams in South Korea are increasing sharply, with losses escalating from 370 million won ($270,000) in 2020 to a staggering 5.51 billion won ($4 million) in 2023. Experts warn that such scams prey on emotional connections, with over 70% of victims being women, according to a 2023 study.
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