Eight Liberians have been apprehended in Korea, for allegedly swindling 21 victims out of a total of 1.15 billion won (US$1 million) in romance scams, Women Voices newspaper has reliably gathered.

Report of the arrest of the eight Liberians comes at the time when the Korean National Police Agency (NPA) has announced a crackdown on crimes committed by foreign nationals, including possible cross-border criminal acts.

Korean police authorities announced over the weekend that the NPA’s crackdown on crimes committed by foreign nationals will run from August through October of this year.

Targets of the crackdown will be criminal organizations engaged in loan sharking, drug trafficking and illegal gambling, as well as illegal foreign exchange transactions, police authorities in Korea announced last Sunday.

Howbeit, Women Voices newspaper has learned that the eight arrested Liberians allegedly engaged in romance scams from August 2020 to May of this year.

According to report, the suspects befriended the victims online under fake identities, such as pretending to be U.S. soldiers or diplomats, and then tricked their victims into sending money to them.

Meanwhile, Korea’s law enforcement authority said it had recently found that a growing number of crimes by foreign nationals such as drug-related offenses and the operation of illegal businesses were associated with organized crime groups.

From April to June this year, 391 foreign nationals were apprehended, among who 133 were taken into custody, according to Korean police data, while about a third or 34 percent, of the latter belonged to one of five criminal organizations.

Of the 391 foreign nationals apprehended so far this year, 46.8 percent were accused of drug-related offenses, followed by those involved in illegally entering the country (18.7 percent), gambling (18.4 percent) and financial crimes (4.9 percent).

By nationality, 17.6 percent of the 391 were from Thailand, followed by Vietnam and Uzbekistan, taking up 14.1 percent each. Approximately 7.7 percent were people from Russia, while another 5.1 percent were Chinese nationals.

Korean police apprehended 14,977 foreign nationals in the first half of 2021, which was a significant decrease compared with the whole-year figures for the past three years: 34,832 in 2018, 39,249 in 2019 and 39,139 in 2020.

In 2020, the number of foreign nationality residents living in Korea for three months or longer was 1.7 million, out of Korea’s total population of 50.1 million.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency apprehended 60 members of one criminal organization based in the Philippines on charges of operating illegal sports gambling sites for Korean users, making some 1.3 trillion won ($1.13 billion) of profit.

Twenty-two Thai nationals involved with an organized criminal group, were arrested for allegedly smuggling and distributing methamphetamine from February to March of this year. Two were placed under arrest by prosecutors.

“Organized criminal groups are often led by individuals of the same ethnicity or nationality,” an NPA official said in a statement, asking for cooperation from foreign residents to report any such crimes.

The official noted, “In the case of undocumented people of foreign nationality, the immigration authorities will not be informed of their status when reporting crimes to the police.”

Source: The Korea Times

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