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Prosecution toughens punishment for voice phishing crimes

All News 20:21 August 22, 2022

SEOUL, Aug. 22 (Yonhap) -- A leader of a phone scam ring may face up to life imprisonment in South Korea from now on, as the prosecution has toughened punishment guidelines for such crimes, judicial sources said Monday.

The Supreme Prosecutors Office (SPO) last week enforced the harsher penalty guideline aimed at better responding to voice phishing crimes that have evolved over the past few years, according to the sources.

The guideline stipulates that prosecutors can seek a maximum penalty of a life sentence for the main culprits of such cases, including leaders of voice phishing organizations, and stronger punishment for criminal acts related to phone fraud, such as the establishment of a paper company and illegal currency exchange.

Voice phishing refers to electronic fraud in which individuals are tricked over the phone into revealing critical financial or personal information to scammers.

Voice phishing was first reported in South Korea in 2006. The amount of damage has since snowballed, as the methods of such crimes have become increasingly sophisticated. The amount of phishing damage more than tripled from 247 billion won (US$184 million) in 2017 to 774.4 billion won last year.

"Even if the damage from voice phishing crimes is small in terms of the amount of money, we can't say damage is small as far as the crimes are against ordinary people," a prosecution official said.

Last month, the SPO also launched a joint investigation team to crack down on phishing scams.

Acting Prosecutor-General Lee One-seok speaks during an opening ceremony of a joint investigation team to crack down on voice phishing scams held at the Seoul Eastern Prosecutors Office, in this file photo taken July 29, 2022. (Yonhap)

Acting Prosecutor-General Lee One-seok speaks during an opening ceremony of a joint investigation team to crack down on voice phishing scams held at the Seoul Eastern Prosecutors Office, in this file photo taken July 29, 2022. (Yonhap)

nyway@yna.co.kr
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