IT worker arrested for selling fake online accounts impersonating South Korean police

By Kuksung Nam, The Readable
Sep. 7, 2023 7:05PM GMT+9

South Korean authorities announced on Wednesday the arrest of an IT professional, detained on September 1, who faces charges of creating and selling fraudulent accounts used to impersonate law enforcement officials online.

In a press release, the Korean National Police Agency (KNPA) disclosed that the suspect, a man in his mid-thirties, created approximately 100 counterfeit accounts between late June and early August on the popular community platform named “Blind.” Known as a service where professionals can anonymously discuss their workplaces, Blind has built customer trust around its unique sign-in procedure, which requires users to verify their employment status to gain access to company-specific channels.

The South Korean police revealed that the suspect found a workaround in Blind’s distinctive verification process while searching for an account connected to a company which he was considering relocating to earlier this year. The accused fabricated email addresses and deployed custom software to deceive the platform, making it appear as if the communications were coming from a legitimate company or organization server.

“The suspect was initially curious about the work culture of the company he was considering joining,” disclosed the head of the cyber terror investigation unit at the KNPA in a statement to The Readable. “He first sold the accounts to individuals who had explicitly requested them. As time went on, he became more proactive, even making posts to advertise the account sales.”

The suspect reportedly earned approximately 5 million won (around $3,800) from these illicit activities. South Korean authorities revealed that the fraudulent accounts were crafted to impersonate not just ordinary citizens, but also high-profile roles such as government officials and employees of South Korean tech giants like Samsung and LG. Disturbingly, police also uncovered that one of the buyers used a fake account to pose as a KNPA employee and posted a threatening message last month about planning a killing spree at Gangnam subway station, one of Seoul's busiest transit hubs.

South Korean authorities are on the hunt for additional counterfeit accounts generated through unlawful means. “Aside from the disturbing death threat, we haven’t discovered any other illicit activities linked to these fake accounts,” stated the head of the cyber terror investigation unit. “It appears that most buyers acquired these accounts primarily to read content on the community platform, rather than to post their own material.”

The cover image of this article was designed by Areum Hwang.

Kuksung Nam is a journalist for The Readable. She has extensively traversed the globe to cover the latest stories on the cyber threat landscape and has been producing in-depth stories on security and privacy by engaging with industry giants, foreign government officials and experts. Before joining The Readable, Kuksung reported on politics for one of South Korea’s top-five local newspapers, The Kyeongin Ilbo. Her journalistic skills and reportage earned her the coveted Journalists Association of Korea award in 2021 for her essay detailing exclusive stories about the misconduct of a former government official. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in French from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, a testament to her linguistic capabilities.