Con man succeeds with feigned Blue House link

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Con man succeeds with feigned Blue House link

Prosecutors charged a man who conned his way into jobs at top corporations by making fake phone calls saying he was a Blue House senior secretary.

A 52-year-old con man surnamed Jo faked calls from Lee Jae-man, the presidential administrative secretary and a close aide to President Park Geun-hye, to procure jobs at KT and Daewoo Construction and Engineering.

According to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office on Thursday, Jo was charged for interfering with business through such falsified referrals in the process of trying to get hired at KT.

In July 2013, Daewoo E&C CEO Park Young-sik’s office received a call from a man claiming to be the presidential secretary, Lee Jae-man, who said that he was sending over a man for an interview the next day.

The man who claimed to be Lee said, “I hope you can hire Mr. Jo.”

Park agreed and Jo showed up the next day and introduced himself as being sent by Lee.

Park did not know that Jo was a con artist who had previously been sentenced to one and a half years in jail for fraud and three years of probation.

With his glib tongue, Jo was not only able to trick Park but all the executive board members. His resume listed fictitious degrees.

He was hired to start the next month as head field supervisor at Daewoo E&C’s Gaebong-dong office in Guro District, southwestern Seoul, on a one-year contract with an annual salary of 60 million won ($56,460).

Park worked in different offices under Daewoo E&C until he was asked to resign in July for having a bad attitude.

Daewoo never verified Jo’s referral with the Blue House or Lee.

Last August, according to prosecutors, Jo set up a cellphone number that was similar to Lee’s number and called up the office of KT Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu. He used the same tactic as with Daewoo E&C.

Two days later, Hwang met with Jo, who said that for the past decade he has been an aide to the “VIP,” referring to President Park, and had worked for her election campaign.

“I still meet with her once or twice a month,” Jo claimed, “and speak to her frankly.”

Prosecutors said Hwang was getting ready to hire Jo, but his office confirmed Jo’s criminal record and Jo was arrested.


BY LEE YU-JEONG, SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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