Zenith Travel Scam Artist Still Scamming Expats out of Cash

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By Iwazaru

3WM broke the ongoing Zenith Travel scam back in September after being contacted by those involved. With the reported arrest of “Wystan” Wan-koo Kang in October, many thought that justice had been served. Zenith Travel had its doors shut and Kang was to face prosecution for scamming dozens of foreigners out of more than an estimated 100 million won. So why is he still conducting deals and scamming more foreigners?

Read original story

Story on closing of Zenith Travel

See Korean media (MBC) coverage of Zenith scam.

Within days of Kang’s arrest in the second week of October, those involved with the case reported that Kang was continuing to arrange travel plans for people. One by one people connected with the “Case against Wystan Kang” Facebook group reporting that they’d been scammed. On October 17, one individual wrote:

Thank you very much for organizing this group and I am sorry for your losses. I have used Kang for years and just recently sent him money for a ticket. I was unaware of all the recent negative press. Strangely, someone sent me a confirmation for my ticket on Friday. However, when I called the airline it of course had not been paid for. I am assuming my money and ticket are gone. Do you have any idea who would still be responding to emails? Should I fill in a report with a police station? Any info you have would be greatly appreciated.

One aspect of Kang’s behavior that stands out now is that he actually established a solid reputation over a period of years, building a clientele–like the individual above–and getting people to recommend him to others.  In fact he is referred to on some English teacher Web sites still.  Yet, from his own admittal in discussions he has had with victims trying to collect losses and in statements police made he met serious financial problems in the past year.

According to one victim who was scammed by Kang in mid-December while trying to book a flight to the Philippines with his girlfriend, Kang, in typical fashion, asked that the 1,250,000 won be wired to his bank account as the email below confirms:

From: zenithtour@hotmail.com

To:

Subject: RE: Flights to Philippines
Date: Tue, 13 Dec 2011 14:25:11 +0000

Yes there are  2 seats available.

If you want to book the tickets advise me of both names of passengers and send the money by tomorrow to my bank account.

Korea Exchange Bank (KEB), xxx-004785-xxx, account name: Zenith Travel.

Thank you.

Wystan Kang
**************************************************************

Thank you for choosing Zenith Travel
Happy Travels!

Keep in mind that this is more than a month after Zenith Travel has been closed according to the authorities.  Then, a few days later, Kang confirms that the payment has been received and that the tickets will be issued:

From: zenithtour@hotmail.com
To:
Subject: RE: Flights to Philippines
Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2011 06:18:34 +0000

Dear Norman,

Thank you for your payment.

We confirm receipt of your payment.

We will send you the e-tickets soon.

Thank you.

Wystan Kang

*************************************************************

Thank you for choosing Zenith Travel
A few days later on Monday, December 19 the client emails asking, “Have you finalized my tickets? Still waiting for e-tickets.” It takes until that Thursday for Kang to reply.

Subject: RE: Flights to Philippines
Date: Thu, 22 Dec 2011 11:48:36 +0000

Dear XXXXX,

I am awfully sorry to advise that we found that ticket for [girlfriend] has been cancelled by our ticketing agent.

The ticketing agent advised that Zenith Travel has financial problem and balance payment for them and cancelled her ticket.

I feel that I have responsibility to solve the problem. But unfortunately I don’t have that much money to pay them now.

This case essentially mirrors most of the almost fifty others that have occurred but it differs in that he was arrested, had Zenith Travel shut down and allegedly was out of business.

In addition, the claimants in the case discovered that Kang relocated to another agency called Travel Expert in the Seocho District of southern Seoul.  According to John Power of the Korea Herald who reported on the new agency, Kang has assumed a new name, “Joseph Kim” and opened a new bank account.  To confirm that it was Kang, a victim went to the new office to identify that it was indeed Kang back at work.  Power also visited the agency to see if it actually was in operation and found a nondescript office in a building with a sauna on the top floor and a restaurant on bottom with “no sign or anything.”

In response to numerous emails by the individual above who was trying to recoup his losses, Kang indicated that he was leaving that office:

Date: Fri, 6 Jan 2012 05:51:31 +0000
Dear Norman,

Sorry I could not make the refund money so far.

I am still having seroius finanicial problem.

I will try to make the refund money in next week.

I will appreciate if you could wait for one more week

I can meet you at somewhere if you want.

In fact I will have to quit Munjeong Office.

Thank you.

Wystan Kang

3WM also contacted the Korea Tourism Organization’s Tourism Complaint Center which has been involved with the case previously to see if they were aware of the newest update.  The representative stated that nothing could be done without actual evidence as the police and prosecutors were not interested in “reports.”  When asked if the center could call the number of contact the agency to inquire, the response was a chuckle followed by, “we could do that but it wouldn’t do much;  we need evidence.”

3WM will continue to report on the case as it receives more information from those involved.  Bottom line is do not do any business with anyone named Wystan Kang or Joseph Kim or someone posing as a travel agent from some agency.  Anyone with relevant information should contact 3wmseoul@gmail.com

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