Pastor-involved scheme dupes 40,000

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Pastor-involved scheme dupes 40,000

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A pyramid scheme involving 2,000 church pastors around the country and 140 billion won ($128.9 million) worth of investments made by deceived investors was busted by the police Monday.

The North Jeolla Provincial Police Agency reported Monday it arrested a 42-year-old ringleader surnamed Song for fraud. Song allegedly accumulated 140 billion won from 40,000 victims. Of the total investment, Song personally raked in around 20 billion won, the investigators said.

The police also booked another group of 11 suspects without physical detention on the same charge.

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[사진= JTBC영상 캡처]

The 12 suspects promised potential investors that they could receive up to 10,000 won every day indefinitely once they made investments of 330,000 won to 5.5 million won.

The leaders of the scheme promised investors that if they invested in the online shopping networks they would receive returns on clicks on Internet advertisements.

The police also reported the targeted investors were easily duped into the scheme as the suspects gave out financial rewards to them immediately with money received from other investors who were also part of the pyramid scheme. “The online shopping site touted by the suspects was barely functional as it was just a facade for the fraud,” said the police.

The police added many of the tricked investors were church members. “A total of 2,000 church pastors were involved in the scheme in luring investors,” said the police.

One of the 12 suspects surnamed Lee is a church pastor. The authorities noted Lee’s recruitment efforts to other church pastors made church members easy targets of the scheme, luring 20,000 church members into the scheme.

“The suspects tricked the victims saying they could make money with just one click on an Internet advertisement,” said Park Jong-sam, director of the criminal affairs department at the agency. “Initial payments handed to investors that were gained from other investments by deceived victims kept the pyramid scheme in operation until the bust.”


By Kang Jin-kyu [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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