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Press Release

Korean National Pleads Guilty to “Bust Out” Bank Fraud Scheme in Sacramento Area and Elsewhere

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Hee Soung Oh, 47, a Korean national residing in Southern California, pleaded guilty today to bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, between January 2017 and September 2017, Oh participated in a nationwide check kiting “bust out” scheme in order to obtain cash from banks. The scheme’s participants obtained a real Republic of Korea passport that was altered to bear a new photograph and name, which they used to open bank accounts with a small amount of cash. The accounts were dormant until a time the participants believed the bank would allow the account holder to deposit a check and make withdrawals before the check actually cleared. At that time, the participants wrote checks from a different bank account with non-sufficient funds, deposited those checks into the dormant account, and then withdrew cash from the dormant account before the checks cleared. The participants would access funds by purchasing a money order and then deposit the money order into yet another bank account associated with the scheme.

Oh is associated with opening source accounts or draining victim accounts. These bust-outs resulted in an actual loss of $273,800 to the banks, and a total intended loss of $466,318 based on additional, unsuccessful bust-out attempts.

This case is the product of an investigation by the IRS Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Audrey B. Hemesath is prosecuting the case.

Oh is scheduled to be sentenced on May 18, 2023, by U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley. Oh faces a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

Korean nationals Jong Eun Lee, 48, and Kyung Min Kong, 55, were sentenced respectively to 22 months and seven years and nine months in prison. Charges are pending against Ki Jang and Bon Soke Hong, who were indicted on Oct. 21, 2021. The charges against them are only allegations; they are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated March 2, 2023

Financial Fraud