Land scammers trick 3,000, haul in W250 billion

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Land scammers trick 3,000, haul in W250 billion

Over 3,000 people fell victim to a multi-billion-won real estate fraud, according to police.  
  
The Suseo Police Precinct said last week they arrested four individuals from a real estate agency who allegedly walked away with 250 billion won ($213 million), on charges of fraud and violation of the Farmland Act.  
 
“We have obtained statements from around 280 victims and conducted search-and-seizure operation at the real estate agency, which is located in Gangnam [southern Seoul],” said the police. “The investigation began in April and the case will soon be sent to the prosecution.”
 
The real estate agency allegedly bought cheap land that is protected from development by the government, then resold it, telling customers it had access to inside information that development was in the works.  
 
The locations of the land included Songpa and Gangdong Districts in southern Seoul as well as Gyeonggi, Gangwon and North Gyeongsang.
 
A YTN report last Thursday said one of the victims was a female K-pop star.
 
According to the report, the K-pop star victim lost 1.1 billion won buying unusable land in Hanam, Gyeonggi that the agency purchased for 400 million won.
 
As speculation about the identity of the K-pop star arose, Taeyeon, leader of mega girl group Girls’ Generation, released a statement on Instagram Thursday saying, “It was always my dream to create a home for my family closer to where I work [in Seoul],”  
 
She continued, “Please restrain from making any further speculation as I am also waiting to hear if I did suffer any financial losses." 
 
She emphasized in her statement that she did not purchase any land to make money.  
 
YTN also reported Thursday that the alleged real estate scammers used An Su-mi, a comedian who once worked for national broadcaster KBS, to find rich potential customers to sell land to.  
 
Immediately after the report became public, An denied a part in any real estate scam.  
 
“If I approached the upper rich class and partook in a 250-billion-won fraud, I would be driving a Lamborghini right now,” An said on her blog last Thursday. “The truth is that I don’t have a lot of rich clients.”  
 
An now works in the real estate business and posts real estate investing tips on her blog.
 

BY HAN YOUNG-HYE, LEE JIAN [lee.jian@joongang.co.kr]
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