Part four of the Zenith Travel scam series of articles. — John.
By John Power and Robert Lee
A Seoul travel agent has been indicted on charges of fraud and embezzlement for scamming at least 60 customers out of more than 170 million won ($150,000), Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors’ Office said Thursday.
Initially operating as Zenith Travel, the man, Wystan Kang, canceled and pocketed the money for dozens of mostly foreign customers’ flights, often without notice.
Kang also embezzled some 60 million won in travel certificates allocated to him by an unnamed travel agency, according to prosecutors.
According to prosecutors, Kang began targeting customers in January 2011. The list of victims includes Korea residents from the U.S., U.K., France, Canada, Ireland, Israel, India, Uganda, Pakistan and South Africa. Kang, who is currently being detained, is expected to undergo a jury trial within the month.
Seocho Police Station was first made aware of Zenith Travel in early August, but Kang was not arrested until mid-October. A Seoul court, however, denied prosecutors’ request for his detention, deeming him not to be a flight risk.
On Oct. 25, just days after his release, Kang set up a new company, Travel Expert, through which he continued his scam under the alias “Joseph Kim,” according to prosecutors.
The Korea Herald revealed the operations of Travel Expert in January, five months after Kang was first reported to the police and three months after he had his business license for Zenith Travel revoked by Seocho District Office on Oct. 6. Kang had registered Travel Expert with Songpa District Office under someone else’s name on Nov. 24.