Police

South Korea: Man arrested on charges of exploiting data leak to steal digital assets

South Korea continues its clamp down on criminal actors in the digital currency space. Police in South Korea’s capital city of Seoul have reportedly arrested and charged a 30-year-old man in connection with digital assets theft. 

According to a report by Segye Ilbo, a local news outlet, the man, called person A, allegedly stole around KRW820 million (US$660,000) in digital currency from 90 victims between January and May this year. 

The police say there is evidence that the man obtained a large cache of personal data that was leaked on a channel on Naver Band, a popular group chat social media platform in the country. 

The group administrator leaked the information by accident and included details of the group member’s digital currency wallets and exchange login information. One victim reportedly lost over $400,000 million, according to the report. 

The police raided his home to make the arrest last month, acting on a tip-off. The hacker is now being charged for fraudulent use of computers under the act of the Aggravated Punishment of Specific Economic Crimes. Under this act, he may face up to five years imprisonment with labor. 

South Korea’s war against digital currency crimes proved successful 

The hacker’s arrest has not been the only digital currency fraud-related action South Korean police recently took. According to the Korea Herald, four operators of a fake digital currency exchange that stole around $1.3 million were also arrested in May. 

Prosecutors wrapped up South Korea’s biggest digital currency fraud case earlier this year. Four digital currency exchange executives accused of stealing $1.9 billion from investors were each handed stringent sentences. 

The police first started paying particular attention to digital currency phishing activities in 2021. The National Police Academy and the ICT ministry teamed up to crack down on digital currency phishing sites. 

However, recent police data shows that digital assets crimes have risen steadily. Per the police data, the total damage recorded from digital currency crimes grew 14-fold from 2020 to reach KRW213.6 billion. There was also a surge in the number of criminal cases and victims. South Korea is working on sweeping regulations for digital assets, with the government ramping up their efforts in the wake of the Terra ecosystem crash that affected a lot of local investors.

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