Families beware: phishing attacks hit as kin travel

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Families beware: phishing attacks hit as kin travel

Emergence of new voice phishing attempts targeting families traveling overseas has led to a police investigation.

The National Police Agency said yesterday it received up to eight reports from different cities nationwide of phone calls to the homes of people who had left for travels abroad. The caller pretended to be an acquaintance or colleague saying that there was an emergency and asking the family members to send money. Voice phishing refers to a criminal practice of taking advantage of either legitimate or illegitimate private information for the purpose of financial reward.

A man who wished only to be identified as Lee, 29, an employee of an IT affiliate of a large enterprise, is among those who reported such a case. The day after he left for Taiwan on a business trip last month, a man called Lee’s home in Seoul and asked his family to send him money, saying he was in a terrible accident on a Taipei street and needed to pay hospital bills immediately.

The perpetrator even let the family hear the voice of Lee crying for help. The caller avoided answering the questions of Lee’s family and only asked for quick cash. Right after hanging up, the family tried to contact Lee on his roaming phone but his phone was turned off. Then they called a colleague who had accompanied him and were told Lee was in a business meeting, safe and sound.

Police said they are trying to track down the source of immigration information, since the phone phishers were aware of the target victim’s destination and date of departure. Voice phishing crimes have thus far been mostly committed by strangers through random phone calls.

“Although it’s possible that the crimes could be perpetuated by an acquaintance, there is the chance that flight information was leaked through travel agencies,” said the police.

As preventive measures, the police advised that people leaving for trips abroad leave emergency contact numbers and that their families ignore phone calls requesting cash transfers.

By Seo Ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]

Related Korean Article

“○○씨 해외출장 갔죠, 사고 났어요”

대기업 정보기술(IT) 계열사에 근무하는 이모(29)씨는 지난해 12월 대만으로 출장을 갔다가 황당한 일을 당했다.

출국 다음 날 이씨의 서울 집에 어떤 남성이 전화를 걸어 “이씨가 지금 타이베이 거리에서 큰 사고를 당해 치료비가 필요하다”며 가족에게 송금을 요구한 것이다. 이 남성은 ‘도와달라’며 울먹이는 이씨를 바꿔주기도 했다. 그러나 이상한 점이 많았다. 가족들이 이씨가 로밍해 간 휴대전화로 연락을 시도했지만 불통이었다. 전화를 건 남성은 이씨 가족들의 질문에는 대답을 피했다. 대신 돈을 빨리 보내라고만 요구했다. 결국 가족들이 출장을 같이 간 회사 동료에게 연락을 해보니 이씨는 현지 업체에서 업무를 보고 있었다. 로밍 휴대전화는 발신처를 알 수 없는 전화가 계속 걸려와 잠시 꺼놓았다고 했다.

신종 보이스피싱(전화금융사기)이 등장해 경찰이 수사에 나섰다. 해외 출장이나 여행을 간 사람들을 노리는 것이다. 경찰청은 이씨 사례와 유사한 범죄 신고가 전국에서 7~8건 접수돼 개인정보 도용 등의 사실관계를 조사하고 있다고 3일 밝혔다.

기존 보이스피싱은 주로 카드회사나 은행을 사칭해 보험금 환급을 미끼로 돈을 가로챘다. 아이를 납치했다고 전화해 몸값을 요구하는 경우도 있었다. 공통점은 무작위로 전화를 걸어 불특정 다수를 대상으로 한다는 것이다.

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