Updated July. 17, 2014 06:26
Prosecutors have caught crooked car traders who set up online markets for selling unregistered vehicles worth tens of millions of dollars.
The Seobu branch of Daejeon District Public Prosecutors Office said on Wednesday it has indicted and arrested 31 people, including two men who managed websites for trading such vehicles that were disguised as legitimate used car portals, and 31 others who traded unregistered illegal vehicles. Prosecutors also booked without arrest 68 people who bought unregistered vehicles from them, and placed seven others at large on a wanted list.
According to prosecutors, those indicted had opened dozens of online used car sites from October 2009 to March this year, and traded more than 10,000 unregistered vehicles to rake in over 66 billion won (64.1 million U.S. dollars) in illicit profit. Prosecutorial investigation found that the suspects allocated roles among themselves, including builders and operators of the sites, traders of unregistered vehicles, insurance brokers, and those who got license plate numbers illegally reissued for the cars.
The sites were disguised as if they are dealing in used cars in a bid to divert investigation authorities attention. They displayed photos of cars whose license plate numbers were deleted, and used terms that only members of their sites and distributors can recognize. For instance, they put advertisement, reading, Any vehicles can be traded, but stopped short of displaying a license plate number, key specifications of the vehicle, vehicle inspection registry and dealership information, which are essential for online ads for used car, thus alluding that the cars are unregistered vehicles.
When trading cars, they used unregistered mobile phones or phones registered in others names, and bank accounts that are opened in borrowed names. After price negotiations with a buyer end, they met the buyer on the street, or hired vehicle shipping companies to hand over the cars anonymously to the buyer. They bought vehicle insurances by counterfeiting documents of original owners of vehicles, such as insurance contracts and personal data usage agreement.
As unregistered vehicles are 50 percent to 70 percent cheaper than legally traded secondhand cars, some of the cars were bought by college students and young males engaging in public service in lieu of compulsory military service. Some of such vehicles were used in crimes, including sex trafficking. A source at the prosecution said, Traders of unregistered used cars earned about 300,000 won (291 dollars) to 3 million won (2,910 dollars) per car, and some of them raked in as much as 5 billion won (4.86 million dollars) in total. With illegal income, they purchased luxury import cars and spent lavishly, enjoying gambling.