Vietnamese arrested in Korea for smuggling stolen phones

By Minh Minh   April 3, 2023 | 05:56 am PT
Seoul police said Sunday they had arrested an illegal immigrant from Vietnam for buying stolen mobile phones and smuggling them back home.

The Vietnamese is accused of buying stolen mobile phones for 200,000 won (US$156) each and then smuggling them back to Vietnam for a total profit of as much as 18 million won between July 2021 and March this year, the Seoul Subway Police reported Sunday, according South Korean news site Yonhap.

Police also detained eight others on charges of stealing and selling the phones to the Vietnamese national, the report said.

To reset the stolen devices in order to sell them, the accused sent text messages to the phones’ owners, saying they had found the lost phones. The messages provided a link claiming to be a map of the phone's current location, along with a request that owners log in to view the map and retrieve the phone.

After logging in, the suspects reset the phones and smuggled them into Vietnam through retail traders and export agencies, police said.

Most of the phones were stolen from drunk passengers on the Seoul subway.

According to data from the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, around 50,000 Vietnamese were working in South Korea as of last year.

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