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Public Officials Duped by Swindler

Posted June. 11, 2005 06:43,   


“You must be the head of a department. I will get right to the point. The other day I saw you entering an inn with a woman. And I taped the scene. You’d better give me two million won if you don’t want to be in trouble,” said a caller when a manager of a district office in Daejeon answered the phone on May 13. The caller didn’t mention a specific date and place, conjuring up a scene from the movie, “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”

Surprisingly, the manager surrendered to the intimidation and asked the caller about the bank account number to send money.

The intimidator is a man called Kim (49) who was released from prison in August 2003 after serving time for crimes he committed with the same tactic.

Since January of last year, he looked into a yellow book and randomly selected names of officials of public offices. He made phone calls to 53 public officials and blackmailed them for one to five million won per person, collecting a total of 103 million won.

After an investigation, the police found out that Kim called public servants without taping scenes of adultery. The investigation found out that he made about 1,000 phone calls to public officials with two cell phones for three months. The actual number of phone calls could be higher than that.

If a receiver took a firm attitude, Kim hung up the phone. On the contrary, if a receiver appeared to be intimidated, he doggedly asked for money. After receiving money, he sometimes made phone calls again and relieved victims of their anxiety by saying that videotapes had been destroyed.

He mainly targeted public officials of government agencies or provincial autonomous governments. A police official said, “The police started to investigate after receiving a report from a head of an organization who received the threatening phone call and money was sent as bait. But the investigation was halted at the request of the alleged victim.”

Among the victims, the highest level officials include a chief official of a provincial autonomous government, a fourth grade official, a head of an agricultural products wholesale market, a director of the Korea Agricultural and Rural Infrastructure Corporation, a director of the Pubic Procurement Service, and a town headman.

Kim said to the police that “some officials were easily deceived, even when I didn’t mention their name or details”

On Friday, the police issued a warrant for his arrest for violations of the law.

Myung-HunJee mhjee@donga.com