Swindlers ripped off romance scam victims, pretending to be ethical hackers

By Dain Oh, The Readable
Jun. 12, 2023 8:08PM GMT+9

Two fraudsters who conspired to extort romance scam victims and succeeded in draining their targets of hundreds of thousands of dollars were indicted by South Korean law enforcement. It was revealed that one of the accused had disguised himself as a fellow victim when contacting genuine scam victims and introducing them to the other scammer whom he colluded with.

The Daegu District Prosecutors’ Office announced on Monday that they indicted two males who had committed fraud against romance scam victims. According to the prosecutors, the swindlers ripped off 23 victims, extorting 930,000,000 won (approximately 725,000 dollars), from April of last year to March of this year.

The 31-year-old male, one of the accused, searched for his targets through an application that was developed for scam victims to share their stories. Once he found a target, he approached them disguised as a scam victim and claimed that he had recovered his losses with the help of a white hat hacker. The other accused man, a 25-year-old male who portrayed himself as an ethical hacker, then asked the targets to pay a fee for the process of recovery, which required hacking the scammers’ network.

To earn the trust of the victims, the fraudsters in some cases gave their targets some of the promised money by revolving other victims’ paid fees. Furthermore, they emphasized to the victims that their technique, which involved hacking, was illegal in order to prevent them from notifying law enforcement. When a victim appeared at the 25-year-old suspect’s residence to recover his damages, the victim was physically beaten by the accused, according to the prosecutors.

“While further investigating the 25-year-old suspect through account tracking, cellphone forensics, and the search and seizure of this house, we discovered that the 31-year-old suspect was also involved in these crimes,” the Prosecution Service told The Readable. “The 31-year-old suspect revealed that he was the one orchestrating the fraud.”


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

Dain Oh is a distinguished journalist based in South Korea, recognized for her exceptional contributions to the field. As the founder and editor-in-chief of The Readable, she has demonstrated her expertise in leading media outlets to success. Prior to establishing The Readable, Dain was a journalist for The Electronic Times, a prestigious IT newspaper in Korea. During her tenure, she extensively covered the cybersecurity industry, delivering groundbreaking reports. Her work included exclusive stories, such as the revelation of incident response information sharing by the National Intelligence Service. These accomplishments led to her receiving the Journalist of the Year Award in 2021 by the Korea Institute of Information Security and Cryptology, a well-deserved accolade bestowed upon her through a unanimous decision. Dain has been invited to speak at several global conferences, including the APEC Women in STEM Principles and Actions, which was funded by the U.S. State Department. Additionally, she is an active member of the Asian American Journalists Association, further exhibiting her commitment to journalism.