In a South Korean court, a 70-year-old individual has been sentenced to custody. The court found him guilty of engaging in Bitcoin (BTC)-fueled deception.
As reported by Kyeonggi Ilbo, an unidentified septuagenarian, referred to only as ‘A,’ has been sentenced to prison. A one-year prison term was given to him for his involvement in “telecommunications-linked financial deception.”
A division of the Suwon District Court discovered that this individual was recruited by an organized telephonic phishing consortium in August 2021. However, ‘A’ claimed to be ignorant of the group’s fraudulent activities.
Prosecutors elucidated that the syndicate tasked A with procuring Bitcoin from a domestic cryptocurrency exchange employing his personal fiat holdings. Subsequently, he was directed to transfer the tokens to the consortium’s cryptocurrency wallet. In return, the syndicate assured him a “monthly commission of 3%.”
The court ascertained that A was under the impression that he could garner up to $4,000 monthly by continuing his BTC acquisitions. However, investigators later found that the syndicate was, infact, a telephonic phishing group aiming to exploit ‘A’ for money laundering.
Cryptocurrency Scam Involving Deceptive Romance: South Korean Court Verdict and Insights
In South Korea, there is an obligation for domestic cryptocurrency exchanges. They are required to conduct all fiat-related transactions through dedicated and verified bank accounts. These bank accounts must bear the account holder’s true name.
The syndicate presumably aimed to employ A as a decoy for this purpose, ensuring the anonymity of its members. Police officers testified that the funds remitted to A were “illicit gains handed over by the victims of romantic swindles.”
Reportedly, the gang utilized social media platforms to fabricate fictitious identities. These fabricated profiles were subsequently employed to deceive unsuspecting South Korean citizens.
Some victims believed they had found love interests online and they subsequently “loaned” funds to fraudulent profiles pretending to be romantic partners. In other cases, individuals received parcels from “virtual paramours” located overseas. However, they were later contacted by other members of the syndicate, posing as customs officials.
These fraudulent officials asserted that the parcels had been dispatched unlawfully and demanded a payment of around $13,300, under the threat of legal repercussions. During the trial, A admitted his culpability but insisted on his unawareness of the syndicate’s operations.
Nevertheless, the presiding judge contended that A had committed a “crime entailing severe economic and psychological harm.” Consequently, The judge maintained that A had played a role in “illegally procuring funds from financially vulnerable individuals.”
The judge further clarified that the court opted for a lenient sentence, given A’s expression of remorse and commitment to refrain from future transgressions.
Escalation of BTC & Crypto Deception in South Korea
Crypto-driven “romantic” deceptions are witnessing an upsurge in East Asia, with a particular focus on older victims. Earlier this year, security providers noted a sudden surge in fraudsters using dating apps. They used these platforms to lure victims into deceptive cryptocurrency mining schemes.
In December of the prior year, a Japanese man in his fifties suffered losses exceeding “$90,000”. This happened when he fell victim to a “foreign lady” who promised crypto “investment opportunities” and companionship.
In Japan’s Fukuoka Prefecture, social media fraud, encompassing both crypto and fiat, resulted in losses amounting to $2 million during the first ten months of 2022.
However, in South Korea, a study revealed that a majority of “romantic scam victims” ensnared via social media in 2022 were women. The same study ascertained that most of these women were below the age of 40 and embroiled in BTC or other crypto assets.