Cybersecurity News that Matters

Cybersecurity News that Matters

South Korean soldier uses stolen personal information to obtain prescription drugs

Illustration by Areum Hwang, The Readable

by Minkyung Shin

Jul. 02, 2024
11:20 PM GMT+9

A South Korean army officer has been apprehended for stealing the personal information of approximately 90 former soldiers to obtain controlled substances.

On June 21, authorities arrested a service member in his 40s, who serves as an officer in the army, on charges of violating narcotics control and privacy laws, as confirmed by a spokesperson from the Gyeonggi Hanam Police Station.

The police explained that the soldier accessed personal details of over 90 former service members through the army’s internal network system, including names and resident registration numbers. Subsequently, he used this stolen information to create a counterfeit identification card, allowing him to obtain prescription medications without legitimate prescriptions.

According to police reports, the soldier visited multiple hospitals in Seoul and the Gyeonggi region to obtain prescriptions for psychotropic drugs, specifically zolpidem, a narcotic used for sleep disorders.

Additionally, on June 27, authorities arrested a woman in her 30s not affiliated with the military, for her involvement in the illegal procurement of drugs with the soldier.

These crimes took place between December 2023 and June 2024.

The criminal was exposed when one victim reported unauthorized prescriptions filled in his name to health authorities.

When contacted for further details, the Gyeonggi Hanam Police Station declined to disclose additional information, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation.

Meanwhile, responding to such incidents, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) mandated a hospital identification check system effective May 20. This measure, as stated by MOHW, aims to prevent identity exploitation for obtaining health benefits, including prescription medications.

The ministry highlighted, “Over the past five years, the National Health Insurance Service has identified an average of 35,000 cases of identity theft annually. However, the actual number is presumed to be considerably higher.”

Related article: Dark web drug squad is initiated by Korean law enforcement

Illustration by Areum Hwang, The Readable

As drug trafficking is rising as a nationwide problem, South Korean prosecutors will form a drug squad which will specifically monitor the dark web and its illegal drug trade, reported local news outlets referring to an official document submitted by the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office on Thursday.

According to the reports, the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office plans to launch a dedicated team of 15 personnel in three different regions in order to restrain drug trafficking which allegedly occurs through the dark web. The team will be installed in the District Prosecutors’ Office of each region, including Seoul, Incheon, and Busan, as early as January 2023. These regions are the gateways to South Korea since they have international airports and harbors.

The drug squad on the dark web will reportedly focus on analyzing internet search records and IP addresses, in addition to tracking cryptocurrency.

There are estimated to be 250,000 South Korean daily users of the dark web. The Korean prosecutors believe a great number of the users access the dark web for unlawful purposes, such as buying drugs. Last year, Korean law enforcement seized 1295.7kg (2856.5lbs) of drugs, which was an increase of eight times, compared to 2017. READ MORE


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  • Minkyung Shin

    Minkyung Shin serves as a reporting intern for The Readable, where she has channeled her passion for cybersecurity news. Her journey began at Dankook University in Korea, where she pursued studies in...

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