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Police arrest woman for defrauding her family

May 24,2018
A 35-year-old woman was arrested on Wednesday for defrauding her husband, mother, cousin and friends for five years, robbing them of a total 23.9 billion won ($22.1 million).

“We’ve identified 14 victims, including the suspect’s husband and mother,” said an officer at the Yangcheon Police Precinct in western Seoul.

“But we are still investigating, and there may be more victims.”

Police made the arrest after five victims reported her to authorities last week. Officers said she did not resist arrest.

Between February 2013 and April this year, the suspect, surnamed Sohn, allegedly told relatives and acquaintances to buy 780,000 won gift cards from a travel agency where she claimed to have connections. She promised to resell the cards for 920,000 won each through her connections and help make a profit.

The person who lost the most money, according to police, was a friend of the suspect who paid her 6.7 billion won. Sohn’s husband and mother altogether paid 1.7 billion won.

“As far as we know, the suspect has defrauded people of 23.9 billion won,” the officer said. “There may be more.”

Authorities believe Sohn conducted her operation as a Ponzi scheme, using money from new victims to pay back previous investors.

She would show relatives and acquaintances fake bank accounts and text messages to make it look as if she were in contact with an employee at the travel agency.

Sohn may have used some of the money to pay off credit card bills. The police said they were still investigating where the money specifically went.

BY PARK TAE-IN [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]