“Don’t lend money to Ahreum” Dispatch digs deeper into former T-ara member Ahreum’s alleged fraud with her boyfriend
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“Don’t lend money to Ahreum” Dispatch digs deeper into former T-ara member Ahreum’s alleged fraud with her boyfriend

Translation: Seo Dong Hoon “So, even if it’s not a large amount, could you help a little?” Seo Dong Hoon is seen sending a DM to individuals claiming that Ahreum is in the hospital and needs money to do her surgery. He desperately asks for money so that Ahrem can go into surgery and wants to save her life.

On April 1, Dispatch delved deeper into former T-ara member Ahreum’s latest controversy regarding her current boyfriend, Ahreum’s hospitalization, and more. There have been allegations that Ahreum is also taking part in scamming individuals, and Dispatch investigated the matter.

On April 14, 2020, Seo Dong Hoon made repeated transfers via phone banking. The amount transferred was 1 KRW (.01 USD) each time. The recipient was his ex-girlfriend.

Each time Seo Dong-hoon sent 1 KRW, he wrote a different transfer message: 

1 KRW: You turned me into a devil.
1 KRW: You shouldn’t have handed over the phone.
1 KRW: I won’t say it twice, I will take revenge.
1 KRW: Let’s see who gets punished, even if it means jail.
1 KRW: I’m just waiting for that day.
1 KRW: I’ll do it right. Just get lost.
1 KRW: Do you even know what revenge is?
1 KRW: I’ve been thinking about you for months.
1 KRW: Be prepared, I’ll take my punishment well.
1 KRW: You’ll be punished by me, you bitch.
1 KRW: Is your brother, that bastard, doing well?
1 KRW: My last day will be your death.
1 KRW: I’ll come back and kill you brutally.
1 KRW: This is my sweet thought.
1 KRW: After all, I’m a madman.
1 KRW: I’ll definitely kill you when I return.
1 KRW: And very brutally.
1 KRW: This is my final goal.

Seo Dong Hoon transferred 1 KRW more than 60 times. From 12:18 AM to 8:31 PM, he continued his threats for 20 hours, not hesitating to say “I will kill you brutally.”

On May 13, 2021, Seo Dong Hoon was sentenced to 2 years and 6 months in prison. He was convicted of fraud, threats, and sexual violence crimes. There were three victims, including his two ex-girlfriends.

Below is the verdict from the Suwon District Court:

“The defendant is sentenced to 2 years and 6 months in prison. The defendant is also ordered to complete a 40-hour sexual violence treatment program and is banned from employment at institutions related to children and the disabled for 3 years. The defendant must pay the plaintiff 30,140,269 KRW (~22,246.37 USD).”

Seo Dong Hoon is currently dating Ahreum, a former member of T-ara. Dispatch investigated the fraud involving Ahreum and Seo Dong Hoon.

The Beginning of Fraud

After being released from prison in September 2023, Seo Dong Hoon posed as a writer. He introduced himself as a “movie scriptwriter” and “screenplay writer,” using a business card from ‘Lotte Entertainment‘ and mentioning a movie titled ‘Mother of The Island.’

Their connection began around October. According to Seo Dong Hoon, Ahreum reached out first via social media direct messaging saying, “Hello, I’m Ahreum. I’ve been living separately for 6 months.”

It’s unclear how their love started, but the beginning of the fraud was identifiable. Two months into their being acquaintanted, they asked a friend for money.

In December 2023, Ahreum asked A for financial help, citing a lawsuit with her ex-husband and a need for 2 to 3 million KRW (1,500 to 2,200 USD). She promised to return three times the amount borrowed, claiming to have an upcoming drama and Lotte Castle advertisement contracts worth 1.4 billion KRW (1,033,000 USD) coming her way.

When A did not respond, Ahreum followed up in February 2024, claiming she was very sick, had been in a car accident, needed to go to the hospital, and would receive money in three days. After A remained silent, Ahreum’s last message expressed disappointment saying, “I took care of the accident but I’m very disappointed. Hope you have a good life.”

Method 1. Legal Fees

In February, Ahreum called B, a friend from her postnatal care center, claiming she needed money for divorce lawyer fees.

Additionally, Ahreum unknowingly made B a guarantor for a loan she took. B was unaware until the loan shark contacted her, finding out her identity had been used.

The loan shark explained, “Ahreum sent a photo with her ID next to her face for verification, leading to the transaction. But now, claiming to be hacked or threatened by her boyfriend, puts us in an absurd position.”

B expressed frustration to Dispatch, stating that she is more angered with Ahreum and the fact that she was exploiting the people who genuinely cared about her.

Method 2: Child’s Medical Expenses

On March 2, 2024, Ahreum exposed her ex-husband’s alleged child abuse, claiming he urinated and defecated on their children’s faces, and even uploaded the eldest child’s voice on Instagram.

However, the child abuse claims were unilateral from Ahreum, and the validity of the claims couldn’t be verified. Interestingly, Seo Dong Hoon told Dispatch, that “The child abuse was a fabrication by Ahreum.”

Seo Dong Hoon claimed, “It’s a video Ahreum filmed by herself for over an hour, scolding her kids. If the child said ‘no,’ she hit them on the thigh with her fist. Later, the child told me, ‘Mom said she’d buy me a toy. Dad never pooped on me’.”

Of course, Seo Dong Hoon’s words also lack credibility. His interview with Dispatch coincidentally happened after he had a fight with Ahreum. Therefore, it can’t be ruled out that he made the statement out of ill intent.

However, one thing is certain: Ahreum began borrowing money under the pretense that “the child is sick,” with Seo Dong Hoon also joining in.  Specifically targeting T-ARA fans, the two individuals managed to fraudulently obtain over 30 million KRW (~22,136 USD) from them.

Victim C stated, “She said her kid is sick…she sent me a DM saying she doesn’t have enough money to take the child to the emergency room. There were reports about child abuse and I felt bad so I lent her money.”

Method 2-1: Actual Conversation

Below is the Instagram DM Ahreum sent to  C.

Ahreum: The second child is in the ER. (The child) can’t even poop, crying so much. It’s really upsetting, but I have nowhere to quickly say this. Being a public figure, may I ask for a favor? We’re short for the emergency room fees…

C: I’ll send it. How much do you need?

Ahreum: We’re short by about 800,000 KRW. The “Masked Singer” appearance fee will come in on the 6th, along with money from other places. I’ll greatly repay you.

C: I can’t do 800,000 KRW. I’ve sent as much as I could.

Ahreum: Can’t you do 500,000 KRW? Ah, it’s sudden, but I don’t even have that kind of money right now. I thought you were a good person, but I won’t forget you. I’ll invite you to the fan meeting.

Seo Dong Hoon called C.

Seo Dong Hoon: You saved Ahreum and the child. You’ll be blessed. Now the problem is we have to cover the hospital bills. Please help.

Seo Dong Hoon: We’re moving to the hospital room. MRI and CT. The kid can’t breathe, so needs to be in the pediatric ICU. This can be paid all at once but they’re saying we can pay in installments

C: Isn’t it usually settled at the billing department when you’re discharged?

Seo Dong Hoon: It hasn’t been registered at the billing department yet. There are many additional tests. You have to pay to be admitted, they say.

Mr. C: I want to know exactly how much.

Seo Dong Hoon: 912,000 KRW.

Ahreum and Seo Dong Hoon alternately contacted C, who couldn’t ignore their pleas. C arranged for the money to be transferred through personal savings, credit card loans, cash services, and even private loans.

Dispatch checked C’s bank transaction history. C transferred a total of 3.15 million KRW (2,320 USD) to Ahreum in six installments. Seo Dong Hon borrowed 30.6 million KRW (22,583 USD) from C. (Seo Dong Hoon threatened to take his own life).

Seo Dong Hoon: Bro, I really want to die. Should I jump from the 10th floor of the hotel lobby?

C: Don’t do that.

Seo Dong Hoon: C, just a little more help, please.

C: How much more do you need?

Seo Dong Hoon: You know I’ll take of you, right? 3 million KRW. Should I kneel? Just selling my car would get 200 million KRW.

C: Okay. I’ll do what I can.

Method 3: Ahreum’s Medical Expenses

Ahreum and Seo Dong Hoon borrowed money under the pretext of ‘child abuse’. However, they soon reached a limit. Thus, they shifted to claiming medical expenses for Ahreum. Ahreum claimed she was hospitalized and needed surgery for problems with her uterus and thyroid.

Ahreum said to C, “After the surgery ends, I need another one. I’ll contact you when I’m a bit more conscious. We’re short 2.2 million KRW to proceed with the surgery. I don’t want to die over this 2.2 million KRW. It’s urgently needed, so please help me somehow…” 

Ahreum also called C. “We need more money for additional surgery tests. I really want to get treated. You can record this conversation,” she added. In conclusion, she requested another 950,000 KRW.

Seo Dong Hoon also called C, crying and pleading for money. Seo Dong Hoon called C and said, “Last time. 4 million KRW. I’ll give you 30 million KRW.” but C replied, “I can’t do this anymore.”

However, Seo Dong Hoon argued, “Can you give us at least 300,000 LRW? Ahreum needs another surgery. It seems she did an ultrasound after the surgery. She can’t move to the MRI room. The machine came to the ward. She’s pregnant. Again. She’s pregnant.”

Method 4: Hospital Proof Photos

Ahreum frequently utilized the hospital excuse. She sent a photo to Mr. D, who lives abroad, showing blood collected in her uterus, wearing a gown from Chung-Ang University Hospital. Then, she pleaded, “We’re short 140,000 KRW for the hospital bill.”

Seo Dong Hoon also spread hospital photos. The target was Ahreum’s ‘close friends’. He contacted E and F, showing hospital admission photos of Chung-Ang University Hospital, claiming Ahreum was very sick and needed money.

E (March 19) refused. F (March 20), upon receiving Seo Dong Hoon’s DM, took a screenshot and sent it to Ahreum. Ahreum said, “He urgently needed (money) so he sent the message” and successfully borrowed 50,000 KRW from F.

Eventually, Ahreum sent DMs to numerous people. G also received a DM asking for financial help. G suspected Ahreum was hacked and requested a verification photo of her holding up three fingers. Ahreum sent one from the hospital room.

As the controversy regarding financial fraud persisted, Ahreum claimed, “I was hacked.” Yet, she provided a real-time ‘verification photo’ featuring a three-finger photo, which could only have been taken by her, contradicting her hacking claim.

Method 4-1: Actual Conversation Record

First, the direct message Seo Dong Hoon sent to E on March 19.

Seo Dong-hoon: E. I’m writer Seo Dong Hoon, T-ARA Ahreum’s boyfriend. Ahreum is very sick right now.

Seo Dong Hoon: You know about the child abuse case, right? Starting from that, she’s been stressed. She’s also pregnant. But she’s bleeding severely and there’s a risk of miscarriage, so she’s currently admitted to Chung-Ang University Hospital.

Seo Dong Hoon: She needs surgery, and we’ve postponed the ‘Masked Singer’ shooting. I’m also dealing with a civil lawsuit for fraud. I’ve been gathering about 200,000 KRW from here and there, so I’m calling to ask for your help.

E: What should I do? I’m currently taking a break from work.

On March 21, Ahreum sent a three-finger verification photo to G.

Ahreum: I’m singer Lee Ahreum. I heard you would help. I’m in a critical situation.

G: Are you okay? When is the surgery?

Ahreum: We’re short on money. I’m ashamed to ask, but I promise to repay you. Just my full name…

G: But isn’t the university hospital post-paid?

Ahreum: No, it’s the overdue amount. We’ve done the first surgery.

G: Can you verify you’re in the hospital now with a three-finger photo?

Ahreum: (Photo verification) You’re helping, right?

Method 5: “Ahreum is a celebrity, and I’m a recognized writer” and targetting fans.

Seo Dong Hoon often used this sentence when borrowing money. He attempted to gain trust (?) using the mysterious compound word ‘recognized writer’. However, most people did not fall for it.

Ahreum and Seo Dong Hoon targeted the ‘Queens’ (fan club). Among them, H was a top fan of T-ARA, known as a true fan among the ‘Queens’. He even attended Ahreum’s wedding.

On March 22, Ahreum asked Mr. H for help, claiming she was admitted to Chung-Ang University Hospital with uterine bleeding, cysts, and thyroid issues. Mr. H couldn’t help but feel sympathetic.

Ahreum: Can you help me? I’m admitted to the hospital.

Mr. H: What? Why?

Ahreum: Uterine bleeding and many cysts, thyroid issues too. It’s Chung-Ang University Hospital.

Mr. H: Ah.. I knew you were going through hard times, it’s heartbreaking. How much do you need?

Ahreum: I’m so grateful and reassured. The hospital and surgery fees are 250… I really want to die.

Mr. H: Don’t even think about dying. How much do you need?

Mr. H transferred 1.7 million KRW to Ahreum. Seo Dong-hoon’s account received 2.5 million won. However, now they are attacking Mr. H. When Mr. H formed a victim group, they threatened legal action.

The Reality of Fraud

On March 27, Ahreum was readmitted to the hospital.

A media outlet quickly reported that “Ahreum attempted suicide and was transported to the hospital.” Seo Dong Hoon posted on his story that “Ahreum is unconscious.”

After Ahreum regained consciousness, they immediately sent DMs to their ‘close friends’. They pleaded for hospital expenses saying, “Ahreum is admitted to Korea University Ansan Hospital.” However, it was confirmed they did not succeed in obtaining funds.

‘Dispatch’ calculated the damage at 43.95 million KRW (33,000 USD) and about 2 million KRW (1,475 USD) was repaid. There are more than ten victims. The monetary demands via DMs from Ahreum and Seo Dong-hoon could be considered fraud.

Lawyer Bang Jung Hyun stated, “We need to verify where the money was spent. If money was borrowed under the pretext of lawyer fees, hospital bills, and then used for other purposes, it constitutes fraud for a specific purpose.”

The Second Jeon Cheong-jo?

In December last year, a post titled “Ahreum’s boyfriend is the second Jeon Cheong Jo” was uploaded on Nate Pann, exposing their criminal behavior. At the time, Ahreum dismissed it as a false claim and stated “my boyfriend attempted suicide.”

Did Areum not know? Or was she deceived by Seo Dong Hoon? The beginning is unknown, but the end is clear. They deceived their ‘close friends’ and fans who showed interest in them.

Seo Dong Hoon provided ‘Dispatch’ with KakaoTalk conversations where he borrowed money through DMs to gamble on sports betting. The conversations included “borrowed money,” “bet quickly,” “bet on Toto (Tottenham) now.”

According to Seo Dong Hoon’s ex-wife, he had lost the house deposit money (Jeonse) to gambling during their marriage. If either of them used the borrowed money for gambling, it could be considered fraud and embezzlement.

However, Ahreum could also be a victim in all this. The possibility that Seo Dong Hoon was the one sending messages from Ahreum’s account cannot be ruled out. (Of course, the part where Ahreum directly made calls and verified needs to be clarified.)

‘Dispatch’ called Ahreum on March 25 to verify Seo Dong Hoon’s claims. However, Ahreum responded, “I never borrowed money. It’s hacking. Don’t call me,” and blocked the call.

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