Phishing gang meets their match in teenaged girl

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Phishing gang meets their match in teenaged girl

The police arrested five individuals and charged them with kidnapping a teenage girl who stole money from a group of voice phishers.
 
According to the Songpa Police Precinct, five unidentified assailants kidnapped a teenage girl near Hongdae Station, western Seoul, around 10 p.m., on Sept. 2.  
 
The girl had been hired by a group of phishers to withdraw 30 million won ($25,705) in cash from a bank. The money was ill-gotten gains from a scam, and the voice phishers didn't want to be caught on security cameras withdrawing it from an ATM. 
 
But the girl ran away with the cash. So the phishers hired five individuals to kidnap her and get back their money.  
 
The girl called her mother from the kidnappers’ car and her mother reported the case to the police around 11:10 p.m.
 
One hour later, the girl was released by the kidnappers in front of an elementary school in Yeongdeungpo District, western Seoul.  
 
The kidnappers took about 27 million won from her. The girl had spent the other 3 million won.  
 
The police were able to track down the kidnappers through nearby security cameras and the girl’s statements to the police.  
 
All five kidnappers were arrested on Sept 4.  
 
The kidnapped teenager as well as three of the five kidnappers were of Chinese origin, according to the police. 
 
Foreigners, especially illegal immigrants residing in Korea, are being used by phishing rings.
 
“The voice phishing scheme has changed a lot over the years,” said a police officer. “When voice phishing crimes first started in the 2000s, the middleman role, like those in charge of money withdrawal, were usually Koreans. But now, because there is more security, Koreans look to illegal immigrants to help in phishing scams.”  
 
Illegal immigrants usually get involved in phishing scams through someone they know or online advertisements.
And the age of the criminals is getting younger.  
 
The police say that minors tend to participate in criminal activities because they are easily lured by the large, immediate profit. Also, even if they get arrested, lower levels of punishment are applied to minors.  
 
In the recent case, two of the five kidnappers were Korean girls in their teens.
 
“We do not have the exact numbers, but a significant amount of individuals who are arrested for illegal activities like phishing are teens,” said a police officer.  
 
The five kidnappers were transferred to the Seoul Western District Prosecutors’ Office on Sept. 14.  
 
Only the three adult kidnappers of Chinese origin will be detained at the prosecution’s detention center.  
 
As for the phishing scam that the kidnapped girl partook in, the police said that they are pursuing a separate investigation.  
 
 
 

BY CHOI YEON-SU, LEE JIAN [lee.jian@joongang.co.kr]
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