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USDT OTC ‘Thieves’ Arrested in South Korea’s Gangnam District

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 3 min read
USDT OTC ‘Thieves’ Arrested in South Korea’s Gangnam District

Police in Gangnam, an affluent district of Seoul, South Korea, have arrested 10 people accused of stealing money in a bogus USDT OTC trade.

Per Maeil Kyungjae, police say a “gang” lured a “victim” into a street in the Yeoksam Neighborhood.

Officers said the gang told the “victim” and associates they would sell USDT tokens for a discount price.

USDT OTC ‘Thieves’ Strike in Heart of Seoul


Police said the incident took place at 12:42 AM on March 21. The parties appear to have met online and agreed on a price of just over $74,000 for an undisclosed amount of USDT tokens.

Officers said the “gang” met the “victim” and a group of the latter’s friends and asked to count the cash.

While pretending to count the banknotes, the “gang” allegedly assaulted the “victim’s group” and ran away with the money – without transferring any coins.

Police said they arrested three suspects who fled in a vehicle “near the scene of the crime.”

Four other people escaped “using another vehicle,” police said, and were arrested on the same day in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province.

Two other suspects appear to have escaped to the southern port city of Busan, where local police arrested them.

The alleged ringleader who police said “planned the crime and recruited accomplices” was arrested four days later, “on the night of March 25, in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province.”

Seoul’s Gangnam District.
Seoul’s Gangnam District. (Source: Fumihiko Ueno [CC BY 3.0])

Detectives Seize Cash and Gold in Raids


Police said on April 1 that their investigation “determined” that the gang’s members originally planned their raid in Busan.

The gang may have had other crypto-keen targets, police said, with some members tasked with “identifying and winning over” crypto traders.

Police said they had confiscated around $37,000 in cash, as well as “a gold necklace worth some $4,750.”

Officers said the gang had used the stolen money to purchase the necklace. The suspects have been formally changed and handed over to the prosecution service.

A police spokesperson said investigators were looking for the “whereabouts of additional accomplices” and “the remaining cash.”

Crypto OTC Crime Wave Sweeping South Korea?


The popularity of over-the-counter (OTC) crypto trading has ballooned this year in South Korea, with the return of the kimchi premium.

Kimchi premium prices at the time of writing for Bitcoin.
Kimchi premium prices at the time of writing for Bitcoin. (Source: Cryprice)

However, this has also led to a large rise in crime, with bogus USDT OTC cases now filling South Korean courtrooms.

On March 13, four people in their 20s and one in their 30s were arrested after members of this group allegedly attempted to extort almost $100,000 from two victims.

The group reportedly met two crypto traders in front of a cafe, also in Yeoksam, and carried out a trade.

The traders sent an undisclosed number of USDT tokens to the group, police said. But other members of the suspected gang then allegedly approached the traders, claiming to be police officers.

These gang members allegedly ordered the traders to hand over the cash, claiming they had been spotted “illegally trading cryptoassets.”

The crypto traders doubted the veracity of the gang’s claims and refused to hand over the money. The gang then attacked the traders and tried to escape.

A graph showing trading volumes on the Upbit crypto exchange over the past three months.
Trading volumes on the Upbit crypto exchange over the past three months. (Source: CoinGecko)

Police Issue OTC Trading Warning


A police official warned the public to “be especially careful” on April 1, adding:

“There has been a recent rise in incidents involving offline [crypto] transactions. Criminals are looking for victims under the guise of [crypto] traders.”

In February, six suspected crypto scammers in Incheon ran away with around $747,000 in cash during another allegedly bogus OTC deal.

Similar incidents were also reported in Geumcheon in late February and Icheon in early January this year.