Police have requested Interpol for support in investigating a Korean restaurant owner accused of scamming several people into investing in a Hallyu street in Asuncion, Paraguay, according to the police and prosecutors on Monday.
According to the Herald Business, the restaurant owner, surnamed Hong, went back and forth Korea and Paraguay for over five years. Introducing himself as a “food importer,” Hong allegedly persuaded a cosmetics factory owner in 2013 into pouring funds to build a “Korea Street” in the capital city by saying he would import the cosmetic products.
He is reported to have shown pictures of a large plantation in Paraguay that he said he owned, and invited the person to his office in Gangnam. Hong swindled the victim out of some 100 million won ($88,200) in products after promising the person he would transfer the money upon shipping the items, according to reports.
The victim later found out there were other business owners that had lost a total of 1 billion won in money or goods to Hong in the same scam and reported it to the police.
Shortly after, Hong said business was “getting difficult” and fled to Paraguay, cutting off all communication. Hong’s victims filed a criminal suit to the police and prosecutors, but he had already flown to Paraguay with the money he stole.
Police said the suspect had scammed several other victims over the years but they did not apply for a warrant because when they looked into it in 2015 an Interpol red notice could only be issued for crimes involving 5 billion won or more.
The police asked the court to issue the arrest warrant after the threshold for a red notice decreased to 500 million won.
However, the victims have expressed concerns as the seven-year statute of limitations is running out.
Police say they are waiting to hear back from Interpol after requesting its cooperation.
By Chyung Eun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org