South Korean sentenced for selling fake USFK jobs

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Camp Stanley is located east of Uijeongbu, South Korea. (Brandon Aird/U.S. Army photo)
From Stripes.com
Camp Stanley is located east of Uijeongbu, South Korea. (Brandon Aird/U.S. Army photo)

South Korean sentenced for selling fake USFK jobs

by: Ashley Rowland and Yoo Kyong Chang | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: September 19, 2015

SEOUL, South Korea — A former Camp Stanley employee has been sentenced to five years in prison for fraud and related charges after selling nonexistent base jobs to more than two dozen South Koreans.

The employee, surnamed Gang, worked more than 20 years in the Uijeongbu-area base, most recently as an ambulance driver, before being fired in March over the allegations.

Gang used a U.S. soldier who was unaware of the scam to interview Koreans by phone to test their English, South Korean police said. More than 30 victims paid him a total of $750,000 for the fake jobs over six and a half years, according to sentencing documents from the Anyang branch of the Suwon District Court.

Gang was also convicted of counterfeiting documents and circulating forged documents. He wrote 11 false letters of employment, using a computer at a U.S. military medical facility in Uijeongbu to produce at least one of the letters.

Among his victims was a woman who paid Gang 25 million won (almost $21,500) in 2013, believing she was securing a civilian job for her son with U.S. Forces Korea. Another woman, police said, paid Gang 100 million won (about $86,000) for administrative jobs for her husband, son and daughter. Gang promised some of his victims he would pay the human resources manager at an Army hospital, and their jobs would be guaranteed until retirement at age 68.

Gang also borrowed 3 million won (about $2,600) in April 2013, telling his victim he needed the money to settle issues related to a traffic accident caused by a junior staffer. However, no accident had taken place.

The court said it levied a harsh sentence because Gang did not reach financial settlements with his victims, as is customary in South Korea. Some victims experienced economic hardship because they quit their jobs in expectation of employment with the U.S. military, and Gang squandered much of the fraudulently obtained money at a casino.

Gang also used the money to pay off gambling debts, police said.

However, the court noted Gang had no previous criminal record and had cooperated with police during the investigation, admitting his guilt and sending letters of apology to his victims.

Competition among South Koreans for civilian jobs with the U.S. military is fierce, with professionals vying for even entry-level positions as waiters or custodians in hopes of moving up the job ladder. Many are attracted by the prospect of longer employment in a country where workers typically retire in their 50s, as well as the chance to perfect their English — and potentially land jobs with international companies — by working for USFK.

Many also think the military offers a less stressful work environment than South Korea’s hyper-competitive private companies.

Gang is not the first South Korean convicted of peddling fake USFK positions. In 2013, a middle-aged housewife was sentenced to eight months in prison for selling two nonexistent jobs at an Area II dining facility for $13,800. The job description included dishwashing and taking out garbage.

rowland.ashley@stripes.com
Twitter: @Rowland_Stripes

chang.yookyong@stripes.com

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