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Police Catch South Korea’s ‘$3.5m Nursing Care Fund Crypto Thief’

Police in the Philippines have apprehended a 44-year-old South Korean man suspected of misappropriating approximately $3.5 million from a nursing care fund and diverting the funds into cryptocurrency.

The individual, whose identity remains undisclosed due to legal reasons, is believed to have committed the embezzlement between April 2022 and September 2022. During this period, he held the position of head of the National Health Insurance Corporation (NHIC)’s financial management team.

According to EDaily, the suspect fled to the Philippines after allegedly pilfering the funds. Investigators assert that, in addition to embezzling “medical care benefits,” he converted the misappropriated funds into cryptocurrency.

‘Manhunt’ for ‘Crypto Thief’ Lasted 16 Months

The South Korean National Police Agency (NPA) took decisive action by securing an Interpol red notice for the individual upon learning of his departure from the country. Subsequently, the NPA collaborated with the Gyeonggi Southern Interpol team to initiate a comprehensive investigation, leading to a manhunt spanning approximately one year and four months.

After diligent efforts, investigators successfully located the suspect at a lavish resort in Manila. Collaborating with local law enforcement, South Korean officers meticulously monitored the suspect’s movements and potential escape routes.

Employing the assistance of a local informant, the police gathered photographic evidence confirming the suspect’s identity. With this crucial information in hand, the officers devised a meticulous arrest plan.

On January 5, utilizing diplomatic channels, the police, with the support of the Korean Ambassador to the Philippines, contacted the Philippine Minister of Justice to coordinate the arrest operation.

Joint South Korea-Philippines Operation to Ensnare ‘Thief’

On the day of the arrest, a joint team consisting of South Korean and Filipino police officers conducted a thorough stakeout at the suspect’s location for five hours. The arrest was executed as the individual was about to use an elevator, and subsequent pictures of the suspect were released.

South Korean police officials have expressed their intention to engage in discussions regarding the suspect’s repatriation to their country. They revealed ongoing consultations with the Philippine Immigration Service and local law enforcement agencies to facilitate the process.

In a separate development earlier this week, a former South Korean police officer refuted allegations of accepting money from a “broker” involved in a crypto-related case. Prosecutors suspect that the broker paid the ex-police sergeant to obstruct an investigation into a suspected cryptocurrency fraudster.

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Cryptocurrency is essentially virtual money that operates in a decentralized manner, not through a bank but directly on multiple independent computers.

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