Extortionists who targeted merchants arrested

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Extortionists who targeted merchants arrested

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said yesterday that it arrested 17 men who allegedly swindled about 1.5 billion won ($1.3 million) from six owners of small- and medium-sized stores in Seoul. Three of them are still detained.

Police said that from June 2008 to January this year, the men approached the owners, who were having financial troubles, and said they would take over management of the debt-saddled stores.

The men then coerced the merchants into transferring ownership to them.

During the process, the swindlers forced clearance sales of everything in the stores, leaving the merchants stripped of everything, with the proceeds going to the extortionists, who now had ownership.

Then the men disappeared with no word from them until now, leaving the former owners with nothing to show for the sale of their stores.

The swindlers didn’t even make payments to the merchants after buying the businesses.

“The crime is so vicious in that the criminals targeted small merchants who were having [financial] trouble,” said a police source.

By Jeong Seon-eon [enational@joongang.co.kr]
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