Eight young women were prosecuted in Shanghai recently for impersonating popular actor Jin Dong and scamming more than 300,000 yuan ($41,200) from his middle-aged female fans.
Jin, born in 1976, is especially popular among middle-aged women for his manly looks and the good-husband type of characters he portrays in TV series.
The criminal ring led by a woman surnamed Wang, with an average age under 30, defrauded multiple victims between May 2022 and June this year, according to Shanghai police.
The victims were all fans of Jin. Some were invited to join fake fan groups. Initially, the victims were asked to recharge and donate money to the supposed celebrity. Later, the scammers would pretend to be the actor, initiate conversations and gradually gain the victims' trust through flattery and care.
The scammers even went as far as fabricating Jin's identification documents to reinforce their deception. They would also occasionally use recorded voice messages from males, with phrases like "Hello, sister. I'm your young brother."
During the conversations, they would mention things like they "need to go film" or give other details to further establish themselves as an actor.
To maintain their relationships with the victims, they would sometimes purchase red wine or skincare products and send them as gifts.
As the conversations deepened, the scammers would gradually lure the victims into transferring money under the name of love or investment.
On Wednesday, Jin made a statement regarding the incident. He questioned the negative aspects of the internet such as fake accounts, rumors and clickbait, and emphasized the need for online platforms to implement more effective measures to address these issues.
It is not the first case of middle-aged women being scammed by fraudsters posing as Jin. In 2020, a woman in her 60s was swindled by someone claiming to be Jin on a short video platform. She established contact with the imposter and even planned to leave home to meet him.
In recent years, it has been common for fake celebrity accounts to deceive fans, especially middle-aged and elderly people, into buying gifts, or to sell products to fans. These accounts usually graft videos of actors or other celebrities and use artificial dubbing to fool victims.