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Fraudster who faked own death for 9 years jailed over W375m scam

By Park Soong-joo

Published : March 22, 2023 - 15:48

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A man in his 40s was sentenced to 18 months in prison for multiple counts of fraud, which he tried to get away with by faking his own death, Gwangju District Court said Tuesday.

Some additional charges were dismissed because the statute of limitations has already passed, the court said.

From 2008 to 2013, he swindled 375 million won ($287,000) out of five people under the pretense of finding them employment in the Yeosu Industrial Complex.

As he faced lawsuits, he forged his death by tipping over a rental car at a dock in Yeosu, South Jeolla Province, and remained off the grid for nine years.

Prosecutors found the fraudster during a regular review of soon-to-expire cases, tracking him down using his medical records and phone number.

The arrest was made 12 days prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations, on Dec. 27.

The court ruled the first offense in 2008 as fraud, not habitual fraud, and dismissed the charges because the statute of limitations had expired.

The statute of limitations for fraud is 10 years. The fact that he was a first-time offender and the four-year gap between his first and second crime had been considered in the ruling.

"The defendant has victimized people's desperation to get employment, giving false hopes and extorting money. Then he staged his death, disguising it as suicide, and absconded until he was apprehended.

"While he has reached settlements with some of his victims and offered to compensate them, it is still questionable whether full compensation was made. Yet, the defendant shows remorse and some of the victims do not wish for his punishment," the court said.