Various international scams using emails or SNS are too common to care about these days.
A recent case this newspaper has confirmed may just be one of them – except that it involved the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI). This government agency leads the overseas advancement of local healthcare companies, medical institutions, and professionals.
|The contract latter, which the KHIDI impersonator sent to a South African citizen, seems to be complete with the Korean agency’s logo.|
If left ignored, more similar incidents could hurt K-healthcare's image, which has recently received global attention due to Korea’s effective quarantine measures.
It was last week that Bright Muntali, who introduced himself as a citizen of the Republic of South Africa, contacted Korea Biomedical Review to report a suspicious email from a person with the name of Michael B. Chang. Chang claimed to be the director responsible for procurement in the Korean state agency.
According to Muntali, Chang contacted him through Linkedin, saying that the agency needed a purchasing representative to proceed with its mineral business in South Africa.
If the South African were a little more careful, he might have doubted why a medical and healthcare promoting agency should engage itself in the mineral business. Muntali did not seem to do so.
When Muntali showed his interest in the offer, Chang sent an employment contract that seemed to contain all the necessary information that an official contract might have, such as the logo of KHIDI, on June 24.
After completing the recruitment process, Muntali contacted the mine that KHIDI and Chang allegedly wanted to purchase minerals and negotiated the ore price and quantity.
However, after the details of the negotiations were sent to Chang for final confirmation, Chang started to change his words.
Chang suddenly demanded that Muntali pay the visa fee to send two KHIDH officials to South Africa to conduct a direct check on the minerals before completing the deal.
“Chang said that the cost of making an entry visa could only be handled in South Africa, and demanded that I pay the visa fee of $1,050,” Muntali said. “When I told him that I don’t have the money to pay such fees, he told me to seek cooperation from the mine and that the employees who will visit South Africa to finalize the deal will repay the fees once they arrive here.”
After the email, Muntali began to suspect that Chang might not be legitimate, he added.
After quickly ending his contact with Chang, Muntali contacted Korea Biomedical Review to request confirmation if Chang was indeed an official from the agency.
However, after contacting the KHIDI, the email turned out to be a complete fraud.
“There are no departments related to procurement within this agency. We do not have a procurement director position,” a KHIDI official told Korea Biomedical Review last Friday. “Besides, we have an international drug bidding department but have nothing to do with minerals.”
The official noted that the agency had received no complaints or accidents related to any impersonation employment fraud cases from overseas.
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