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29 Koreans buy fake Obama prizes

A Korean volunteering group was caught allegedly selling fake prizes in the name of U.S. President Barack Obama.

Twenty-nine people including lawyers, businessmen and students were swindled, according to Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency Friday.

The police’s international division booked the 52-year-old leader surnamed Park and six others on charges of fraud.

Park told police that he planned the fraudulent scheme due to his NGO’s financial problems. The organization, which described itself as “Peace and Culture Volunteers,” contacted victims by saying they were granting the “Barack Obama Volunteer Prize.”

The swindlers emphasized that the prize would be of a great help to students planning to study abroad and those who want to get permanent residence in the U.S.

In total, the victims paid Park $110,000 to receive the award, including fees for attending the fake prize ceremony held at the U.S.

In order to deceive the recipients, Park organized “the 60th Anniversary of Korean War Veterans” in New York and awarded the victims with the fake prizes.

It turned out that the prize given at the event was a souvenir trophy sold at 85 cents apiece online by an agency under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

As victims questioned why their names were not engraved on the prize, Park also faked a certificate using the name of a U.S.-based NGO.

“The swindle was done so thoroughly that the victims would not believe that their prizes were counterfeit. Even we had to show them evidence,” a police spokesman said.

By Kang Yoon-seung (Intern reporter) (koreacolin@gmail.com)
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