China’s fan culture can be crazy. Case and point: Hangzhou police recently arrested four people for selling celebrity flight information to other fans, and the dealers themselves were also loyal stans of the target celebs.
The group illegally attained several celebrities’ personal information and used it to track their flight numbers with self-check-in machines at airports. After that, they sold the info to fans at a price of up to 15 USD per star.
They even helped fans who bought the information to purchase tickets for the same plane, though the fans didn’t actually board the flights, at least not every time. Many simply went to see the celebrities off at the boarding gate, after which the foursome would help refund the money.
The case, now closed, involved two men in their mid-20s and another two who are under 20 years old.
Xiao Zhan and Jackson Wang are among the celebrities who fell victim to the scheme.
Chinese actors and singers Wang Yibo (left), of South Korean-Chinese boyband UNIQ, and Xiao Zhan, of male idol group X NINE, attend a fan meeting for the TV series The Untamed in Tianjin on July 12, 2019. Image via Depositphotos
Many netizens who commented asked the same question: Where did they get the personal information? Some even expressed concern about their own privacy, with one netizen writing, “This is so scary. Not only is the celebrities’ information being leaked, but ours too. Otherwise, how do those scammers call us all the time?”
While it remains unclear how the details were leaked, Global Times cites a source saying that celebrity information is often shared by airport staff.
The issue of personal privacy has ignited plenty of discussion in China lately. In 2019, China’s popular idol Wang Yibo complained on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, about his phone number being leaked. He chided his fans for interrupting his personal life and asked them to “love him rationally.”
The plea seemed to fall on deaf ears: In 2021, police found tracking devices on his car and arrested several of his fans as a result.
This is not the only issue caused by China’s intense and often rabid fan culture. RADII reported last year about Xiao Zhan’s fans getting AO3, a fiction website, blocked in China after Xiao was featured in a scandalous work of homoerotic fan fiction.
Xiao Zhan at the 2020 Weibo Night Gala. Image via Wikimedia
Xiao, who stars alongside Wang Yibo in the hit series The Untamed, is incredibly popular in China. His fanbase is massive, and collectively they can do real damage online.
Cover image via Depositphotos
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