Police sniff out W5.5B voice phishing scam

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Police sniff out W5.5B voice phishing scam


Police busted a voice phishing ring where the criminals disguised themselves as high-ranking officials in order to extort money from people.

The Seoul Songpa Precinct Police said yesterday they filed warrants to detain five members of the criminal ring, including its 45-year-old leader surnamed Lim, and also booked six other accomplices without detention for pocketing 5.5 billion won ($4.9 million) via voice phishing, which sees card owners misled into providing their bank account details by swindlers operating under the guise of official government agencies, since November.

The police said the suspects purchased clothes and shoes from Dongdaemun market in central Seoul with the earned money, then transferred the goods to their accomplices in China to resell them. The criminal ring is the largest voice phishing group ever, and is even connected with Chinese criminals in Shenyang and Yanbian. Suspects set up a pair of calling offices in those cities and called people in Korea after receiving phone numbers from their accomplices in Korea.

The callers disguised themselves as high-ranking officials of local police stations or for the prosecution in Korea, threatening victims that they have evidence they can use to press charges against them. The suspects sometimes told victims that they have kidnapped their children and even threatened to kill their children if they called the police.

Once the money is wired, the suspects quickly closed the accounts after taking out the money and purchased goods in order to avoid police investigations. The ring took in an average of 20 million won to 25 million won a day, according to the police.

“People should remember that both financial corporations and investigation agencies never ask people to give their personal information including bank account numbers and passwords over the phone,” a spokesman at the Songpa police told the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Lee Jeong-bong, Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]
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