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‘$3.5m Nursing Care Fund Crypto Thief’ Extradited to South Korea

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 1 min read
A judge’s gavel next to a set of handcuffs on a wooden table.
Source: S…/Adobe

South Korean law enforcers have extradited a man suspected of stealing $3.5 million from a nursing care fund to buy cryptoassets before fleeing abroad.

The man, surnamed Choi (aged 46), is a former National Health Insurance Corporation middle manager.

He was arrested in the Philippines earlier this month after a manhunt that lasted for around a year and a half.

Investigators said they were now “focusing on recovering” the fund Choi allegedly stole from a public fund for nursing care.

Hankyoreh reported that police were “tracking the whereabouts” of the money that was allegedly “stolen” between April and September 2022.

Choi, a man suspected of robbing a nursing care fund to buy cryptoassets, is escorted through an airport in South Korea.
Choi, a man suspected of robbing a nursing care fund to buy cryptoassets, is escorted through an airport in South Korea. (Source: Yonhap TV News/Screenshot)

Police think Choi converted the fiat he stole to crypto, and was living “a life of luxury” in a “high-end” resort in the Philippines.

Choi reportedly headed the firm’s financial management team and oversaw nursing car benefits payments.

South Korean Government Hopes to Recover ‘Crypto Thief’s Stolen Funds’


Police escorted Choi, handcuffed, through Incheon International Airport at around 5 am on January 17.

Choi replied “no comment” to several news reporters’ questions shortly after arriving at the airport.

Choi, a man suspected of robbing a nursing care fund to buy cryptoassets, moments before his arrest in the Philippines earlier this month.
Choi, moments before his arrest in the Philippines earlier this month. (Source: Yonhap TV News/Screenshot)

A police spokesperson confirmed that law enforcers had “expected that it would take at least a month to complete the repatriation process.”

But, following talks with the Philippine Immigration Department, officers explained they were “able to repatriate [Choi]” to South Korea “in just eight days.”

The National Health Insurance Corporation said that it had already “recovered” over $500,000 worth of the funds in 2023.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare-operated firm said it had seized the funds via civil lawsuits.

The South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare.
The South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare. (Source: Minseong Kim [CC BY-SA 4.0])

And the National Health Insurance Corporation said it was hopeful of recovering more of the money following Choi’s arrest.

Earlier this month, police in Icheon said they had arrested a man suspected of stealing cash during a bogus over-the-counter (OTC) crypto exchange deal.