South Korean ‘OTC Crypto Scammers’ Arrested After ‘Fleeing with $747,000 in Cash’

South Korean ‘OTC Crypto Scammers’ Arrested After ‘Fleeing with $747,000 in Cash’

Six suspected OTC crypto scammers were arrested in Incheon, South Korea, police in the city confirmed on February 20.
Per Newsis, officers said the suspects were all aged between 20 and 39. Police think they stole $747,000 in cash as part of a bogus over-the-counter (OTC) trade.
OTC Crypto Thefts on the Rise in South Korea?

Police say the incident took place in the Songnim District of Eastern Incheon at around 4 pm on February 19.

An unnamed victim said they had arranged to swap about $747,000 for crypto. The victim said that they had agreed on a cut-price deal for the coins with vendors they presumably contacted via social media channels.

However, the vendors reportedly arrived at a meeting point, took the victim’s cash, and counted the money in their van.

Once they had finished counting, the suspects reportedly “pushed” the victim out of their vehicle and sped off.

The alleged victim filed a police report, and officers said they used CCTV footage to identify the vehicle, its owner, and the remainder of the group.

Incheon’s Songnim District. (Source: hyolee2 [CC BY-SA 3.0])

The number of high-value OTC crypto thefts is climbing in South Korea. In early January, police officers in the nearby town of Icheon, Gyeonggi Province, arrested a man “in his 20s” on theft-related charges.

Police said this man similarly offered to sell crypto at a low price, but instead made off with $10,700 in cash. The suspect took the money and drove off in a car without transferring any coins.

Police Issue Warning

Speaking after the alleged incident in Incheon, a police official told South Korean media outlets:

“We are investigating the specific circumstances of this crime, including the sources of the funds involved.”

The official added:

“There has been a rise in cases of fraud that involve enticing people to sell virtual currency at a low price. Others offer victims the chance to make large profits by investing in virtual currency. We ask the public to be especially careful.”

Trading volumes on South Korea’s Upbit crypto exchange over the past seven days. (Source: CoinGecko)

In September 2023, regulators said that they wanted new powers to police the OTC crypto sector.

Speakers at an event involving the Financial Services Commission and the Seoul Southern District Prosecutors’ Office Virtual Asset Crime Joint Investigation Team claimed domestic OTC markets had become “the epicenter of virtual currency-related crimes.”

South Korean Crypto Traders’ Influence Jumps During Recent Bitcoin Rally

This is extremely important to note as exchange and trader dynamics are swiftly changing. My eyes are on Korea (again) given the 2016-2018 premium. 👀

— Leah Wald (@LeahWald) January 24, 2024

Regulators claimed the growing list of OTC-related crypto crimes now includs “fraud and money laundering.”