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South Korea police bust real estate scam

The 15-member ring earned about 480 mn won, abusing a housing law that gives preference to a pvt homebuyer with an adopted child or children.

world Updated: Mar 24, 2008 13:34 IST

South Korean police said they have busted a 15-member group, which faked the adoption of children to pull off a real estate scam on Monday.

The ring earned about 480 mn won ($479,520), abusing a housing law that gives preference to a private homebuyer with an adopted child or children.

The ringleader was arrested, while 14 others including real estate brokers and a loan shark were charged but not detained, said a spokesman for the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.

Government anti-speculation regulations fix the price of some privately-built apartments and reserve a percentage of homes for what are seen as deserving applicants.

Officials are trying to overcome a traditional reluctance in South Korea, which places great stress on family bloodlines, to adopt children.

Police said a street vendor visited the loan shark last July and received 10 million won. In return, he waived his rights to his daughters and let a street cleaner "adopt" them. The street cleaner used the adoption document to secure his rights to buy a luxury condominium but resold the rights to a high school teacher.

Using fake adoption documents, the ring obtained the right to buy 21 apartments in Seoul and nearby cities.

In addition to the 15 people running the scam, police charged 20 biological and 19 adoptive "parents" for accepting up to 10 million won in each case.