Reports of Actor Saint Von Colucci Dying of Cosmetic Surgeries to Resemble BTS Singer Jimin Appear to Be Elaborate Hoax That Used AI

A report circulating about a 22-year-old actor named Saint Von Colucci dying from cosmetic procedures to look like BTS singer Jimin have turned out to be an elaborate hoax likely involving the use of AI imagery.

News of the alleged death was first published on the Daily Mail website on April 24, and has now been pulled. The outlet, which does not appear to have issued any form of retraction, did not respond to Variety’s multiple requests for comment.

The alleged news was also picked up by several mainstream publications, including The Independent and TMZ, as well as leading news outlets in Korea. It’s likely that many outlets would have accepted the reports after a similar incident in 2022 in which British influencer Oli London admitted to having numerous surgeries in order to resemble Jimin.

Many publications have now updated their stories, acknowledging the hoax.

The report stemmed from two press releases that were sent directly to journalists by a group called The Hype Company PR. These claimed that Colucci had “always been insecure about his overall looks in Korea” and that he felt “discriminated against his Western traits,” prompting him to get surgery.

Several journalists received these releases in their inbox through a bot called Nylas, which scraped email addresses from online portfolio website MuckRack.

The first release claimed that the 22-year-old Colucci had undergone surgeries that cost up to $200,000 in order to resemble BTS singer Jimin for an upcoming K-drama. It stated that Colucci was the son of Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima and a hedge fund CEO named Geovani Lamas. In fact, Lima’s eldest child is 12, and neither Lamas nor his company IBG Capital have any online presence.

Before these press releases, “Saint von Colucci” had little profile on the Internet. It was reported he was a singer-songwriter in addition to being an actor, but links to his previous music (including the supposed 2022 release “Hug Me If I Cry”) all led to previews with album art — and then nowhere. His Instagram page, which appears to be under the username @papaxxzy, has been deactivated and reactivated numerous times in the course of the last week. None of the 37 posts that are currently published provide any information about the so-called actor, and his appearance varies across the images.

One of the releases was sent from a PR affiliated with “GoPapaMedia,” the domain of which was registered in Toronto, Canada, under a “Sait Lucci.” The domain was subsequently re-registered in Massachusetts following the second press release that announced the actor’s demise at the fictional “Seoul National Hospital” (presumably a reference to Seoul National University Hospital). The domain owner’s name is currently protected.

The emails also contained links to a media kit, which yielded images supposedly taken before and after Colucci underwent the procedures. The images immediately raised suspicions of AI generation, with one of the photo returning a 75% result on Maybe’s AI Art detector. The Drive folder has since been emptied.

Numerous emails and calls by Variety to The Hype Company PR to verify Saint von Colucci’s identity have gone unanswered.

The episode reveals the pitfalls of fast-paced news cycles in digital journalism, and the dangers of accepting information served up by agencies as fact. It also sheds light on the disturbing use of AI-generated imagery to fool media orgs.

Freelance journalist Raphael Rashid led social media discussions about the hoax. “All the red flags were there. All the inconsistencies. Yet many large media orgs believed the story and wrote about it without any fact-checking,” he tweeted.

“The biggest clue was the press release announcing Saint Von Colucci was ‘intubated’; an artist’s management would never do this,” said Riddhi Chakraborty, assistant editor at Rolling Stone India. Her team refrained from reporting on the story after failing to find any evidence to support it.

“Research, experience, and verification are key factors of responsible journalism but recently they seem to have been disregarded in favour of clickbait.”

Jeffrey Samuel Ronald contributed to this story.

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