Voice phishing ring uncovered
By Na Jeong-ju
The prosecution said Wednesday it has indicted seven members of a voice phishing ring on charges of extorting money from more than 2,300 victims.
Based in Seoul, all of the members were Korean. Previously, phishing scams targeting Koreans were committed by ethnic Koreans in China who spoke Korean fluently.
Among the seven suspects is the ring’s 51-year-old boss, surnamed Kim. Kim once worked for a private moneylender.
The ring used mobile phones. After obtaining a list of people who were unable to borrow money from banks due to a poor credit rating, the scammers sent text messages offering to lend cash.
Of some 100,000 people, over 2,300 people replied and the ring then demanded commission payments. “In that way, the suspects extorted more than 3.4 billion won ($3 million),” a prosecutor told reporters.
The money was withdrawn from cash machines in many areas. The victims trusted them because they acted as bankers. They operated a call center to receive applications for loans and used Internet-based phones that were registered under stolen names. The caller’s number was then changed.
Prosecutors said voice phishing is very hard to monitor or trace since they typically use Internet phones. This makes it impossible for police to trace from where they called.
According to the prosecution, financial damages stemming from voice phishing amounted to over 300 billion won during the past five years but it is not easy to root out as the deceptive calls are made mostly from abroad. In recent months, voice phishing through Internet message services is becoming more rampant, it said.