12 Arrested In Alleged Koreatown Check Kiting Operation
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Officials Wednesday arrested a dozen people and were seeking three others who have been charged in a large-scale, bank account “bustout” scheme, costing Southern California banks at least $15 million.
The arrests were the result of a multi-agency investigation called “Operation Check Kkang”, referring to a Korean term that describes check kiting.
A total of 15 defendants were named in a 26-count indictment describing a scheme, which allegedly started in Feb. 2010 and continued until Oct. 2013. The members of the alleged conspiracy are believed to have deposited bogus checks and immediately withdrew funds from the account, officials said. All the defendants have been charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank fraud.
The following people were arrested Wednesday in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties: Michael Yeon Cho, 30, of Pacific Palisades; Kun Young Lee, 51, of Los Angeles (Koreatown); Jeong Gu Kim, 53, of Los Angeles; Hak Soo Shim, 40, of Newport Beach; Renling “Mark Ling” Chao, 50, of Los Angeles (Brentwood); Il Hwan Jae, 60, of Los Angeles (Koreatown); Erick Palafox, 28, of Lynwood; Jae Kwon An, 42, of Riverside; Joonie Yeon Cho, 42, of Los Angeles (Koreatown); Eun Ah Kim, aka Eun Ae Kim, 39, of Los Angeles; Hee Jung Lee, 41, of Riverside and Woo Chang Lim, 36, of Ventura.
Jae Ho Chung, 44, of Los Angeles (Westwood), Roger Lee, 48, of Cerritos and Hye Ran Lee, 30, of Irvine, are considered fugitives, according to the FBI.
The Check Kkang investigation was conducted jointly by the FBI, IRS – Criminal Investigation and the Pomona Police Department.
The FBI said it had no immediate plans to arrest some of the 100 or more so-called customers who participated in the scam.
“I can’t say what knowledge they had or suspected of the individuals,” FBI spokesperson Tim Delaney said.
The investigation is ongoing.