Police catch a customer who was always wrong

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Police catch a customer who was always wrong

Police arrested a customer from hell who extorted hundreds of millions of won from a mobile phone carrier and refrigerator and computer dealers by making phony complaints about products and services.

The Jongno Police Precinct in central Seoul said yesterday it arrested a 56-year-old man surnamed Kim on charges of extorting 240 million won ($222,893) from companies by making false complaints about products 206 times since 2010.

Kim, a retired military officer, even threatened customer service representatives with a baseball bat when they came to his residence to deal with complaints.

When customer service representatives didn’t do what he wanted, he would threaten them saying, “I can take your job away with one phone call. I’m a former anti-North Korea spy. I won’t let you and your family get away with it.”

Police said Kim’s extortions were his living after he failed in several businesses.

He targeted large companies that don’t mind placating customers with refunds or product exchanges to keep their reputations intact.

His longest-running ruse was with a mobile phone carrier. He would buy a smartphone and set up an account under one of his relative’s names.

Then he would bring the phone into the service center and say its power would cut off unexpectedly at any time. According to police, this is one of the hardest complaints about a mobile phone for a company to verify.

He demanded cash in compensation or a brand new cellphone.

When repairmen said they could fix the phone, Kim refused to allow them, saying, “I don’t need your service because I’m not going to use it anymore as I don’t trust the product’s quality.”

He allegedly performed that trick 121 times, including 21 times last month. If he received a new phone from the carrier, he would sell it. He also demanded the mobile carrier pay his monthly fee in compensation.

In March 2010, he bought a refrigerator and intentionally turned it off. He called the retailer’s service center and said the machine wasn’t working and some expensive mushrooms he bought from Mount Baekdu on the border between North Korea and China had spoiled.

He received 10 million won on two separate occasions from that retailer after saying he would disclose the machine’s mechanical failure to the media.

After purchasing a computer, he asked the engineer installing the machines to move files from his old computer to the new one. Later, he complained that the files that were supposed to be transferred were destroyed. He demanded compensation and received 5.97 million won.

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

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