Voice Phishing Scams Learn to Use a Seoul Accent

For Koreans, a phone call from an unknown number and a Chinese accent immediately raises suspicion that they are about to be scammed. In recent years, Yanbian, a province in northern China adjacent to North Korea and home to nearly three quarters of a million ethnic Koreans, has become known as the home to elaborate voice phishing scams. In voice phishing, a caller will imitate a bank, police officer, or other official who needs to find out someone’s bank account information to trick the target into giving them money. A news report about a phishing scam where the victim was fooled by a caller’s fluent Seoul accent has raised the alarm once again.

The image of a Yanbian Chinese-Korean scammer has become so popular that it was even featured as a sketch on the most popular Korean comedy show, “Gag-Concert”.

While many netizens ridiculed anyone who would give their bank information to a stranger over the phone, many scams prey on Koreans’ suspicion of the government and powerful organizations and their desire to help their family. Such scammers will threaten a family member and demand payment. On July 16th, the Korean legislature revised a bill to increase protections against voice phishing fraud.

Article from Herald Economy:

No More Voice Phishing with Yanbian Accent, Now with Seoul Accent

by Seo Sang-beom


What comes to mind when you hear the words “Voice Phishing”? Don’t assume it is said in an Chinese-Korean accent. Now, after a con artist speaking in a Seoul accent began cheating people and taking their money by impersonating a government prosecutor, the police have launched an investigation.

According to police in the district of Gangnam, on July 15th, they began an investigation after getting a report from a victim about voice phishing fraud that cost her close to ten million won (about $8,936).

The victim was an ordinary business woman in her thirties who received a call on July 1st from the scammer, a man who claimed to be an employee of the Pusan District Prosecutor’s office. He said that a group of criminals had stolen her personal information to open a bank account, so he had to investigate her and find out whether she was one of their accomplices. It sounded plausible.

Then, he lied to her that she needed to have about ten million won in her bank account in order to check how she had withdrawn and deposited cash. She responded by depositing the same amount of money he requested into the account via a cash advance from her credit card and a bank loan.

Afterward, the scammer sent her a link to a fake website which imitated the look of the real bank website, where she put her personal information and the serial number of her security card. Through this site, the scammer was able to get all of her bank information.

From impersonating a prosecutor to giving the fake Internet site, so called “Pharming”, all such tactics are widely known to the public. But the scammer still managed to get ten million won easily and without being caught.

You are no exception! (Voice Phishing Prevention Campaign)

You are no exception! (Voice Phishing Prevention Campaign)

She said that she didn’t think to doubt the caller because his accent was typical of Seoul and after she called back to the same number he gave her, she found that it was correctly from the Pusan District Prosecutor’s Office.

According to a police official, “Don’t assume that voice phishing scammers will have a Yanbian accent. Please be careful.”

Comments from Nate:

aswl****:

I always hang up when the number begins with an unfamiliar area code. kekekekeke

aswl****:

Hey, stupid! No matter who is a prosecutor or a police officer, no one asks you to send money to an account. I think anyone who is cheated is stupid. Why didn’t you try to check his name and his department? If you did, the truth would easily come out. kekekekeke

yunn****:

In my case, when I got a call from someone impersonating a prosecutor, I asked him what the name of the former chief prosecutor was. Jang-gae hung up the phone without a word…

gmlt****:

I am concerned that we could be deceived because the fraud has no Chinese-Korean accent any more. Prepare measures as quickly as possible for elderly people and children.

idbu****:

I think the accents of Chinese-Koreans and Gyeongsang-do are similar. Just one word from either of them is enough for me to know they are jaesu-opso cheaters.

in_y****:

How about using the application named “What Is This Number?”? .. When you get a call, this app lets you know information about the number, like whether it has been reported as a spammer. Also, as the word like credit card or new insurance pops up, it helps you to decide whether you want to receive the call.

llss****:

I hang up as soon as I hear, “Hello, customer.”

kbd2****:

Damn, why do you guys always swear on comments? Please stop it. Those who were cheated already feel horrible.

Over the phone, the words like credit card, insurance premium, and kidnapping can frighten you into sending money.

Over the phone, the words like credit card, insurance premium, and kidnapping can frighten you into sending money.


doduk****:

Aha, it was you! You said you would have to call me back later as soon as I told you I only have thirty thousand won in my account. ke ke ke

jwb8****:

Fuck, hey Chinese-Koreans! Stop watching Gag-Concert.

nate**** :

What if Chinese-Koreans had babies in Korea and they grew up to look Korean on the outside while still committing voice phishing fraud? Damn..

luvb****:

kekekekeke Are you still getting fooled by these tricks? Stupid..

tama*****:

I could have been phished a couple days ago. The Naver site showed up, but I didn’t realize it was a pop-up page, which said that my personal information on Auction was leaked online, linked with a bank website. So I clicked the site and it requested me to put in my bank password and security number. I felt uneasy, so I closed the page and opened it again. But Naver worked normally as usual…be careful.

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  • commander

    No official authorities have powers to request personal information over the phone as law enforcers, if authorized by a court, secure that information directly from banks having your accounts.

    But the problem with the growing phishing swindles is that unlike clever young guys who see through obvious frauds by checking out the verity of requests for personal information by scammers, the elderly, most of them living alone, fall victims to voice phising or pharming.

    As frauds are orchestrated from scammers in China, and transferred money is laundered through intricately networked false name accounts, it is know to keep track of wired money, law enforcement agenceis have no option but to urge the public’s caution about a phone call or a text message from an identified source.

    But I think it will be of great help in precluding progressively sophisticated scams to place an public advertisement on TV featuring the basic countermeasures for the elderly and innocent people.

    It would be better if that advertisement stars comedians doing a sketch on voice phishing on Gag Concert aired by KBS on Sunday–entertaining and instructive.

  • KCdude

    The Resident Registration Number, credit card numbers, and banking account numbers are still used everywhere from internet commerce to easy fraud. And yet, digitally illiterate politicians don’t understand the the source of these problems at all. I don’t think they are willing to understand them.

  • Mighty曹

    Why would it HAVE to be a Chinese-Korean scammer? Wouldn’t a Seoul accent indicate that maybe he IS Korean? Smarten up and start investigating internally!

    • Cervello

      This type of phishing is a big thing in my country almost a decade ago. The Phishers? Of course our own countrymen.

      The key to have a successful phishing is familiarity with the victim day to day life aside from linguistic.

      PS: love the video, quite funny. I don’t understand Korean but i can tell the accent differences. And the last part just a plain L..O..L.

      • chucky3176

        The video was hillarious, more hilarious if you understood the language. And even what’s funnier is that, the comedy sketch was based on the real conversations that were recorded in real life. The actors in the comedy sketch sounds exactly like the real recordings. They did an absolutely fantastic job.

      • Mighty曹

        Also the key to gaining the victim’s confidence. Hence “con”.

    • terriblemovie

      Because the phone calls are almost always traced back to China.

      Kinda like how the emails of whos wants to give you a billion dollars are almost always traced back to Nigeria.

      • Mighty曹

        Yes, but what I’m saying is, what if the scam has moved ‘locally’ and operated by natives? Unless we believe that Korean natives are morally incapable or lacking sophistication in pulling off such a scam.

  • linette lee

    It’s funny how korea has the audacity to constantly defame Chinese in their social media and internet. They really have no shame. When it comes to scamming no one can claim first place except koreans. A nation of liars and phonies. So superficial and fake. Be careful when signing work or business contract with them because what’s on contract don’t mean much to them. Stealing military and electronic technologies from USA and they will tell you it’s their own korea invention.
    Buying things from them they will charge you higher because you don’t speak korean to them. A can of Arizona ice tea they charge you $1.50 when all the next door stores charge you 99 cents. When confronted they tell you in a straight face they have to pay for shipping. No shame. And forget about dvd pirating. The Chinese are getting some fierce competition from the koreans.

    http://www.pisd.net/pisd/hs/students/harkins/tea.jpg

    • lol

      >It’s funny how korea has the audacity to constantly defame Chinese in their social media and internet

      not just korea linette lee. the entire world thinks the exact same

    • chucky3176

      Now I’ve heard of everything. A Chinese accusing others of stealing military and electronic secrets. This must be a joke.

    • chucky3176

      World map of top ten countries with worst DVD piracy. Guess who’s at number two and number eight?

      http://www.mapsofworld.com/world-top-ten/world-top-ten-video-piracy-countries-map.html

      The worst thieves of US military secrets is by far, is of course China.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/03/opinion/how-china-steals-our-secrets.html

      Then they say they’re all Chinese invention.

    • Sillian

      Lol. You are pressed. Why would you dig your own grave saying irrelevant things? The majority of voice phishing cases in Korea have been traced to the Joseonjok province in China. Korean media isn’t supposed to talk anything about it?

    • Isaac

      Coming from a country with no regard for human life and corruption reeks rampant. I can see why you’re suffering from an inferiority complex.

      Nonetheless, It’s amusing how you incorporate Chinese stereotypes unto South Korea.

      • linette lee

        no, what I point out are definitely Korean stereotypes.

        No regard to human life..well the ethnic Koreans in China are the ones walking around with knifes stabbing and threatening Chinese people. So stop calling them Chinese Koreans. They are pure blood Koreans living in China. All Chinese will tell you they are Koreans and not Chinese. It’s like whenever Koreans do crimes all the sudden they are Chinese. What do they have anything to do with us Chinese?

        http://www.chinasmack.com/2012/videos/chinese-girls-beat-up-by-suspected-korean-men-in-chengdu-kfc.html

        • Sillian

          Lol…you are only making yourself look like a manic again here.

          So only ‘Han’ Chinese are Chinese now?

          • linette lee

            ….So only ‘Han’ Chinese are Chinese now………………
            by blood…yes.

        • commander

          The Chinese are ingenious in engineering massive starving deaths as seen in Great Leap Forward movement and in vying for political power in Cultural Revolution. After Deng Xiaoping’s landmark decision of reform and opening, China is turning violent against its poor people protesting against rampant corruptions in officialdom and restricted freedom of speech after they are deprived of land rights forcibly and deprived property are used to make rich people more rich by expanding their shady businesses on the help of venal officials who hardlt hesitate to quell angry demonstrators calling for nothing other than justice.

          • BT

            what’s the point? the chinese are merely doing/experiencing today what others did/experienced in their respective growth phases

          • Sillian

            It seems commander is trolling against linette lee’s trolling…

          • chucky3176

            Linette Lee is the problem. She barged in here, started to insult away the Korean posters here, and caused this mess, when nobody here said anything about Chinese people.

          • commander

            Dont you understand my point, which is obviously written? Then you take a closer look repeatedly until the point is taken.

      • ys

        “no regard for human life”, in a country where suicide is at record levels…yeah…you really should think before you speak

    • commander

      In comparison to your argument that Korea is “a nation of liars and phonies,” Is it too trivial or negligible to cite an alleged overcharche of about 50 cents for a can of Arizona? Come on, give us more resonant examples to prove your case.

      • linette lee

        Why?? You think I am blind? hahaha…lol. The Arizona can clearly says 99 cents. Why she charged me $1.50. Insulting my intelligence? Now that’s a crime. Those Koreans no doubt are bunch of criminals. Can’t be trusted. be careful. All Chinese watch out.

        • commander

          Based on your isolated experience, you make a generalization saying that the alleged overcharging show South Korea as a nation of liars.

          To use the same line of reasoning, a Chinese making a case of absurdity points to stunning Chinese backwardness in terms of intelligence.

          • linette lee

            oh be quiet. Zillions of words. What you need is a slap in the head so you can stop talking BS. Loose wire. 神經病.

          • commander

            Pushed to the point where you find yourself to make counterarguments, you are angry, which represents your intellectual retardedness.
            你真的是傻瓜。

          • linette lee

            You are dumb. You know nothing.

            이 바보야!

          • commander

            Typical response that is found in a coward that is unable to make logical argument. Dirty words that yiu have written and your copying of my comment format convince me that my cultured Chinese frineds will apologize to me for your being part of the Chinese.

            keep in your mind that substance and style both matter when you make persuasive arguement.
            I dont know whether you are hurling disparagments for a trolling or not but it is clear that it will be the long way before you learn to get your thought to others persuasively.

          • linette lee

            How old are you? If you are my father’s age I apologize. If I talk disrespectfully to older people like that my father will give me a very long lecture. Just don’t read my comments anymore in the future. Nothing is good and you will continue to get angry.

          • Wang That!

            Linette!

            Awesome to see that you’re still alive and well. Also to see that you’re still doing your same old ranting… But I think you should take a break and jump back on to ChinaSmack to address an article that your father is featured on… He’s complaining that your ugly ass needs to be punished by the law for not being married, at your old tired age (juding by your pic your like 40+ no?)… LOL

            Cheers, hope you get scammed some more over the hot summer! especially by Koreans and hopefully some Japanese too… LOL!

          • linette lee

            hahahha….you again! What happen you are still alive? I thought that old man picture is you on China smack. You want me to get scammed by the Japanese too? You are the only one leaves me completely speechless. I won’t even try.

        • Brett

          Linette, you’ve never even been to Korea. Just stop.

          • linette lee

            What? You are Korean now? hahaha..lol.

          • Brett

            Well, I’m guessing you are basing this bias on some street vendor in New York. The can reads “$. 99″.why would you agree to pay more?

          • linette lee

            After she bagged it with the rest of my groceries. I wasn’t gonna make a big fuss over few cans. I was in a hurry. Only dishonest people will do such.

          • Wang That!

            Say’s the moron that paid… sure, ok you were in hurry… nice try… ^__^

            You are way to easy to troll…

        • Sillian

          Q: I PURCHASED A 23 OZ CAN THAT WAS MARKED $.99 BUT WAS CHARGED MORE FOR IT. ARE THEY ALLOWED TO DO THAT?

          A: We try to suggest a $.99 price to retailers by putting it in our package design. Ultimately retailers can sell it for as much or as little as they like. We suggest you find a store that sells it for $.99 or less.

          http://drinkarizona.com/ProductCart/pc/viewContent.asp?idpage=1

          You must be bored.

          • linette lee

            The whole world charge $.99. Only the criminals charge more. shame shame shame shame shame..duh….

          • chucky3176

            Correction. Only Chinese carge $.99 because of two things:

            1) Cheap labor that nobody can compete with

            2) They’re fake Arizona, made out of Chinese chemicals illegal in other countries.

            You are amusing, you dug your own grave.

          • linette lee

            You are dumb like always. Koreans love fake stuff too. You can’t walk down a street shopping place in south korea without being harassed by the local koreans. Especially if you are Chinese and Japanese tourists. They shout at you and grab you harassing you to buy their fake stuff.

            http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/culture/2013/07/399_113475.html

          • Wang That!

            Shame on who? the vendor for charging more than what the MSRP is (S being Suggest… and to remind you they are allowed to do this…)? The shame is more befitting for you, because you accepted it paid… buyers remorse?… LOL you’re too simple in the head…

            Even up here in Canada you find the HK markets do the same…

          • nitrostat

            MSRP – manufacturers suggested retail price… the word suggested means to put forward to consideration… it does not mean obligatory or mandatory… this means that market vendors are not mandatory or obligated to sell at .99c and can sell at wtever price they please. i “suggest” you learn your definitions before spouting out nonsense. Ohh and FYI HK markets in Canada don’t charge just .99C for arizona ice tea due to sales tax… so your answer is null and void

    • commander

      And you shoud be reminded of Chinese making all kinda of phony products like brand bag, perfume, liquor, and even cars, and this forgery is arguably the biggest rip off from consumers.

      • linette lee

        says the Koreans who are famous for plagiarism and copying technologies of big USA brands. After stealing they dared to take USA big company to court trying to rob more money.

        • commander

          There are those doing plagiarism and stealing technology from competitors all over the world.

          In particular, the US considers a series of hacking attacks on defence industry firms as originating from China, which denies any involvement and even counters the cyber espionage by mentioning Ametican infiltrations into Chinese firms.

          The war of words surrounding cyber warfare espectially on securing corporate confidentials appears to be raging on, it is clear to a disinterested outside observer that both sides have their share of blame for electrical penetrations against each other.

          Coming back to the main point, your characterization of South Korea as a nation laden with deceptions and spying activities is just a farce, and you are nationalism-motivated and hostility-impelled to make an unsubstantiated comment–an argument that is backed up by down votes, and critical comments below.

          • linette lee

            hahah..of course. No one love to click click click the voting button more than the Koreans. They are famous for clicking online poll buttons. hahaha…lol.

          • commander

            A Chinese like you can be likened to a dictator who repudiates voices from people, exposing Chinese proclivity for repression spanning millemina, which is embodied as innumerable bloody crackdown on people protesting against corruptions and abuse of power. 甚至许多中国人讨厌你是中国人。

          • BT

            lol, grow up, ‘repression’, ‘dictator’, how old are you? slinging such naive terms around. i am praying that you are simply pissed because you have fallen prey to what seems to be a high level of trolling because if you believe that then i feel bad for you.

          • commander

            You are a retard. I am serious. And I believe that the best way to deal with a trolling comment is to get commentator to realize absurdity and childishness from the comment.

            And I am also sure that the frivolity from your habitual wild guess over an intention of a person is the firm eivddence that you are nothing but a gossipy man that has never gained trust from others in your entire life. I feel bad for that.

    • seunri92

      You do know that it’s mostly, not all, but mostly ‘loser Koreans’ who couldn’t make it in Korea (for whatever reason or excuse) that migrate to the US or China. Just as I don’t associate the Chinawoman who runs the ‘fly chicken’ shop down the street to represent the whole of China, don’t expect the crazy-ass, ignorant ajumma to represent all of Korea.

      Oh, and not only Korea ‘defames’ the Chinese. America does too:

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-15/china-corporate-espionage-boom-knocks-wind-out-of-u-s-companies.html

    • hun

      I play too much league.. i read that has “ahrizona”.

  • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

    Gah. Phriggin Phishers. Regardless of origin, they are just parasites.

    • chucky3176

      It’s regarded similar to the Nigerian email scams. Yabian China is a perfect location for these scams because they are ethnic Koreans there, and therefore speak Korean. And second, the phone calls can’t be traced by the Korean police back to the criminals, so the criminals are out of the reach of the Korean law. So it’s a perfect breeding ground for phishing scams.

    • linette lee

      All phishers are Koreans. Not Chinese. Thank you.

      • dk2020

        i thought you were a chinese gold farmer linette..

  • Cervello

    “What if Chinese-Koreans had babies in Korea and they grew up to look Korean on the outside while still committing voice phishing fraud? Damn..”

    Even when they hold Korean Nationality you still not consider them as Korean? Sound like you want the already small South Korea divided into more.

    One of a country resource it’s its people.

    • lol

      Actually, many Korean-Chinese consider themselves Chinese rather than Korean.

      • terriblemovie

        Many Korean-Chinese don’t even have a drop of Korean ancestry in them. Its not that difficult to fake your identity in order to enter Korea.

        According to some estimates, 60% of the Korean-Chinese in Korea are pure Chinese.

        • Mighty曹

          Doesn’t Korean-Chinese mean Chinese born in Korea? American-Chinese is a person of Chinese heritage born in the US and not “half Chinese and half-American”.

          • chucky3176

            No.

            Korean-Chinese refers to ethnic Koreans who are PRC nationals mostly born in China, who have immigrated to South Korea. They are called “Joseonjoks”. They maybe ethnic Koreans, but they are bi-cultural (both Korean and Chinese). For example. They may eat kimchi, but they also eat skewered lamb meat (Koreans don’t eat lamb). And they may speak Korean with a heavy North Korean style accent, but can also speak/read/write Mandarin.

            The ones you refer to, the ethnic Chinese born in Korea (they can be either Taiwanese nationals or Korean nationals), are called “Hwagyo”. They too are bi-cultural.

            The Korean netizen comments are about the Joseonjoks (ethnic Koreans from China), and not the Hwagyos.

          • Mighty曹

            Thanks for the clarification.

    • Sillian

      Even when they hold Korean Nationality you still not consider them as Korean?

      If both parents are Korean-Chinese (Chinese nationals), their children also hold Chinese nationality even if they were born in Korea.

      • holdingrabbits

        I think the problem is that it’s weird standard of who is Korean. If someone who is half Korean does something good then they are Korean, if a half Korean commits a murder or something then they are not Korean.

        • Sillian

          Apart from the nationality on paper, identity is supposed to be subjective. It’s up to what they identify themselves as after all. From what I have seen, the majority of Korean-Chinese people who grow up in China and move to Korea later consider themselves primarily as Chinese if you ask them. If they were born and grew up in Korea with both Korean-Chinese parents, I would expect them to identify themselves as Korean but It’s up to them. Half Koreans aren’t necessarily seen as either Korean or non-Korean. Each individual is different. If they express strong affinity with Koreans, can speak Korean well or have good cultural knowledge, ofc Koreans will feel close to them.

    • chucky3176

      If they consider themselves as “Korean” then yes, I would accept them as Korean, even if they hold Chinese nationality (by Korean law, they would still be foreigners until they naturalize).

    • Xiao

      The people who call South Koreans from Yanbian, China, don’t hold South Korean nationality.

  • Andrew

    Just to clarify, Yanbian is not a province. It’s an autonomous prefecture in Jilin Province.

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