China cracks down on voice phishing targeting Koreans

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China cracks down on voice phishing targeting Koreans

BEIJING - Less than a month after a large-scale crackdown on a voice phishing group in China, authorities broke up another ring yesterday with 11 Koreans arrested.

According to Chinese media outlets, authorities in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture have recently launched a joint investigation with five other provinces in China - Jilin, Liaoning, Fujian, Shandong and Guangdong - and arrested 68 members belonging to five different voice phishing rings.

The country’s Public Security Bureau said it confiscated 3.2 million yuan ($501,500) from the groups.

The voice phishing rings would make random calls or send text messages to Koreans using personal credit card information. The fraudulent scheme conned victims into transferring cash.

Members usually purchased the personal information and hired a group of Chinese who speak Korean and had them call numbers throughout Korea. According to reports, they made more than 1,000 calls to Korea all together.

One of the groups based in Yanbian had 22 Chinese and three Koreans on staff.

They acquired the personal identification numbers of 80,000 Koreans in October of last year for around 120,000 yuan. They then made Internet calls to Koreans and received money transactions worth 800,000 yuan by luring them with petty loan offers.

Another group of 18 Chinese and eight Koreans called Koreans in November of last year after acquiring their personal information and calling as employees of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office. The group raised 4 million yuan.

This isn’t the first time Chinese authorities have caught voice phishing groups targeting Koreans.

Last month, Chinese police announced that 235 members - including 51 Koreans - were arrested in five provinces of China for their ties to a voice phishing ring.

This large group is reportedly known to have made more than 1,200 calls and raised 100 million yuan. Members of the group also purchased Korean personal information and made random calls pretending to be prosecutors dealing with illegal financial transactions.

They requested personal financial information and later withdrew money from the accounts through online banking.

“China and Korea are strengthening joint investigations on voice phishing networks,” said a Chinese official. “Criminals are widening their base to other countries in Southeast Asia and Taiwan.”

Based on various reports, the members of the voice phishing rings based themselves in five different places including Yanji in Jilin Province and Dongguan in Guangdong Province.

By Choi Hyung-kyu, Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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