Go to contents

Judge Victimized by Voice Phishing Fraud

Posted June. 01, 2007 03:21,   


A local court judge in Korea lost 60 million won to an international voice phishing fraud scheme.

This fraud, unlike other cases, is sophisticated as predators have detailed information about the victims they target.

According to the police, phone scams are on the rise, with 1,606 cases reported during June 2006 through January 2007. 800 cases were reported to the police from February to March this year. In April alone, 641 cases were reported.

Crimes getting sophisticated-

At 10:50 a.m. on May 28, a judge received a phone call in his house in Seoul threatening him. The scam artist in his 40’s said that his son, a 24-year -old working as a public servant for the alternative military service office, had been kidnapped. He went on to say, “Send me 5 million won to my account.” The judge was waiting for a legislation seminar to be held in the afternoon in the National Assembly. His wife was staying in France with her daughter, who is studying there. And his son went to work at 7:00 a.m.

The judge heard screaming sounds which were allegedly his son’s, over the phone. He believed that his son had been kidnapped and was shocked. He ordered his secretary, who was in a local court, to transfer the money. The secretary sent the money from his own account to the predators’ and additional 5 million and 10 million won were transferred when they demanded more later. The scammers demanded 30 million won more, which the judge paid.

The secretary could not afford to send such a large amount, and ending up reporting it to the director general. The director consulted with a chief presiding judge and decided to ask for help from the prosecutors’ office. They went to the chief prosecutor’s office in the same jurisdiction at 11.50 a.m.

While they were meeting, the predators were continuing to threaten the judge, prompting the chief court judge to send 30 million won from his account at noon.

Again, the group demanded another 50 million won. The prosecutor was worried that, “Sending a lot of money at one time will make things worse” and transferred an initial 10 million won at 1:00 p.m.

Poor initial response-

The judge did not call his son’s phone number even though the presiding judge and his secretary asked him to. The father said, “The group threatened me, if law enforcement authorities call your son, he will be hurt.”

In the meantime, a policeman who heard the case from the prosecutors’ office found out the victim’s social registration number and phone number. He called the son and found out that the son was not kidnapped. It was 2:00 p.m. at the time.

The money transferred to the scam group totaled 60 million won withdrawn from banks outside Seoul.

A policeman said, “If the father had informed court staff members of his son’s number, the crime would have been prevented.” Particularly, if the phone in his house had been eavesdropped on for the three hours when the group and the father talked, the police could have identified the violators.”

Chinese scam artists?-

Prosecutors guess that the perpetrators are Chinese given that the group talked with the father for three hours using an Internet phone, which is geographically beyond Korean authorities’ position tracking capabilities.

Prosecutors also are guessing that the group may have a Korean-Chinese living in Korea as a helper. The presiding judge said, “The group was very well aware of the son’s school and work place and other information.”

They secured closed circuit television recordings of nearby banks and are investigating accounts under Chinese name. They also said that current circumstances prove that the offenders did not know the father’s job.