Ex-policeman under suspicion of voice phishing

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Ex-policeman under suspicion of voice phishing

A 42-year-old former policeman surnamed Park is under suspicion of being the country’s biggest voice phishing con artist, allegedly swindling countless people out of money through defrauding them by phone.

Park stepped down from his position at the cyber investigation unit of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency in 2008 on suspicion of bribery. When he couldn’t find another job he apparently decided to organize a voice phishing scam of his own.

According to the prosecution, Park bought a black market list of people who were rejected from taking out bank loans. He is believed to have deceived victims into thinking he was an employee at a savings banks before cheating them out of cash by asking for a commission, deposit or labor costs.

Park also allegedly forged the identification cards of real employees at savings banks for the fraud.

Authorities investigating the case believe that Park is also behind the fraudulent texts from “Team leader Kim Mi-yeong,” which are well known as smishing texts - the digital version of phishing.

Park allegedly fled to the Philippines when he noticed the police were onto him.

“We are currently investigating 53 people related to the voice phishing case involving former policeman Park,” said a prosecutor of Gwangju District Prosecutors’ Office on Wednesday. “We believe they have set up a call center and exploited about 4 billion won [$3.6 million] from about 2,000 victims by falsely promising loans.”

Given that about 40 billion won was deposited into accounts used by Park and his associates, according to the prosecution, the authorities are looking into more fraud cases and victims. Police and prosecution suspect there will be tens of thousands of victims considering the bank statements and ledger they have uncovered.

The prosecution have put 21 suspects, including Park, on the wanted list and have arrested 26 people it believes is involved in the scam, including Park’s 39-year-old brother, who is thought to have handled the financial side of the operation.

The authorities are also questioning six others, including a 41-year-old police officer surnamed Kim, who allegedly tipped Park off about the investigation. Kim is believed to have accepted 10 million won for giving Park information.

The prosecution said that those who are being investigated also include advertisement models and former professional baseball players.

BY CHOI KYUNG-HO [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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