4 arrested in scam to steal key money from tenants

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4 arrested in scam to steal key money from tenants

Four suspects have been charged with allegedly forging their identification cards to pretend that they owned expensive apartments in Gangnam, southern Seoul, and after putting the houses up for lease, they stole the key money (jeonse), from the tenants.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said the suspects stole about 1.4 billion won ($1.25 million) from the tenants.

According to the prosecution, they rented luxury apartments on monthly rate contracts from May to October 2010, leased out the houses to tenants and received the deposit fee from them through bank accounts under the names of the real owners.

When the defendants contracted with the owners, they got personal information about the owners and used that information to make ID cards.

Using the fake cards, they opened a bank account in the name of the owner.

They also rented real estate offices in Gangnam and some of them pretended to be realtors while others played the role of owner.

Prosecutors said they attracted people through Internet ads, saying, “We will rent you a luxury apartment with cheap deposit fees.”

One of them, surnamed Sin, said, “I have earned little money from this fraud and I just followed what ‘the manager’ ordered me to do.”

Sin said he met “the manager” in May 2010 - when he was having difficulty finding a job - through a job recruiting Web site.

Introducing himself as the manager, he lured Sin by saying, “If you follow my orders, you can earn some money.”

Sin took his offer, and the manager gave him a fake ID card and money to rent a realtor’s office. Sin said he played the part of realtor.

According to Sin, they withdrew all key money stolen from tenants as cash.

When the real owner noticed the men didn’t pay back the monthly rent fee and visited their apartments, they had already fled, Sin said.

“Tenants should ask their local office to issue a property record of the owner and meet him in person,” Kim Chang-hui, a senior prosecutor, said. “And the deposit should be handed over to the owner when both sides are together, [not through a bank account] to reduce the possibility of fraud.”


By Kim Hee-jin, Choe Sun-uk [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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