Posted August. 28, 2015 23:21,
A local court handed down jail terms to a group of financial scammers found guilty of voice phishing, or theft of personal financial information and money from individuals over the telephone, recognizing them as a "crime gang" for the first time. The ruling came as the judiciary viewed the evil effects of voice phishing equal to those of organized crimes.
The Daegu District Court sentenced to six years in prison a 28-year-old Lee, who held a managerial position in the group, convicting him of opening call centers in China and Korea and systematically making random calls to South Korean citizens to swindle money. Two others, who held middle management positions, were also given five years and four years and half behind bars, respectively. In addition, 32 others involved in the syndicate received jail terms of three to four years and a half.
"Considering that they committed the crimes with human and physical organizations and hierarchical order within the group, acted with a common purpose of swindling money from third persons, did not allow members to leave the organization in their free will, restricted the freedom of movements and had a disciplinary system, they are equivalent to a crime syndicate under the Criminal Code," Judge Yeom Kyung-ho said.
In June, prosecutors in Daegu indicted members of the organization on crime syndicate charges for the first time. Previously, only fraud charges were applied to such telephone scammers, limiting sentences to a maximum of 10 years in prison. As they are now acknowledged as a crime syndicate, courts can give heavier sentences to phishing scammers and allow the authorities to confiscate or collect their criminal gains.
Lee and the others in the syndicate were indicted on charges of siphoning some 1.34 billion won (1.1 million U.S. dollars) from some 210 victims between February 2012 and September 2013 after fooling the victims with loan offers to get their personal financial information. The convicted committed the scams by dividing their roles. They also had offices in residential areas in China and Daegu or even lived together in a group.