South Korea arrests 25 individuals for phone number spoofing

By Kuksung Nam, The Readable
Jul. 25, 2023 8:02PM GMT+9

South Korean law enforcement said on Tuesday that they arrested 25 individuals for their involvement in a phone scam where they allegedly took part in spoofing phone numbers.

In a press release, South Korea’s phone scam joint investigation team stated that the suspects, including five Taiwanese and one Chinese, were charged with manipulating phone calls. The criminals assisted a Chinese phone scamming group by converting the first three-digit number called through voice over internet protocol to an ordinary cell phone number. The voice over internet protocol uses an internet connection instead of regular phone lines to make calls.

The joint team started their investigation in October of last year after receiving tips from the National Intelligence Service (NIS) about phone scammers located in China. With the cooperation of NIS, they discovered 26 offices used by the phone spoofers and seized 4,302 devices, including fake SIM cards and laptops. Based on their findings, the investigation team explained that the attackers conducted 73 cases of voice phishing and stole 1.5 billion won (almost $1.2 million) from victims.

According to the statement, a 31-year-old Taiwanese individual was the person in charge of managing all of the workplaces and distributing the criminal devices to each office from September of last year to June of this year. The suspect is also accused of stealing 355 million won ($280,000) from 21 victims. South Korean law enforcement added that the criminal conducted the crimes while being investigated for committing phone scams from April to May 2022.

The joint investigation team is planning to identify the personal information of the Chinese phone scammers with the assistance of international cooperation in criminal matters.

The joint investigation team was launched last year to specifically tackle phone scams. The team consists of six different organizations, including the South Korean police, the Prosecution Service, the Financial Supervisory Service, the Korea Customs Service, the National Tax Service, and the Korea Communications Commission. In total, they have arrested 278 individuals for their participation in phone scams.

The cover image of this article was designed by Sangseon Kim.

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.