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Prosecutors raid home, office of conman’s dead nephew

Prosecutors raided the home and office of the dead nephew of the nation’s largest pyramid schemer on Wednesday as they try to find evidence that the conman may be alive.

Cho Hee-pal has been at large since 2008 and is suspected of swindling about 4 trillion won ($3.5 billion) from an estimated 50,000 people, according to prosecutors in Daegu, South Gyeongsang Province, where Cho started the scheme.

Cho, who would be 58 if alive, allegedly asked people to invest in a medical device business from 2004 to 2008. Prosecutors believe he fled to China with his accomplice Kang Tae-yong and the investments in December 2008.

His nephew, identified only by his surname Yoo, allegedly helped and kept in contact with the fugitive, according to prosecutors. Yoo was found dead at his home in Daegu on Tuesday in what police believe was an anti-depressant overdose.

About a dozen prosecutors seized laptops, PCs, cell phones and USB drives, among others, from Yoo’s home and office in Daegu to find out if Cho is alive, a prosecutor said, asking not to be named.

“This raid was conducted to elucidate everything that has to do with Cho Hee-pal, his dead nephew and Cho’s right-hand man Kang Tae-yong,” the prosecutor said. “We’ll also delve into whether Yoo indeed helped Cho and Kang since they fled to China.”

Cho has been rumored to have died from cardiac arrest in December 2011, but the rumor has not yet been substantiated. (Yonhap)

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