South Korean police have arrested a 38-year-old man who is suspected of running a cryptocurrency scam that targeted housewives and office workers.

The man, who has not been identified, is accused of duping his victims out of around $218,000 by promising them high profits if they invested in his cryptocurrency project.

The man is alleged to have operated the scam from September 2019 to August 2022. He would pose as a successful crypto trader or a well-qualified civil servant in investment- and crypto-themed group chats on the KakaoTalk chat app platform. He would then target housewives and office workers who were looking for ways to make money.

The man would tell his victims that he would invest their money in tokens that he knew were about to be listed on major exchanges. However, he would instead use the money to gamble in online crypto-powered casinos.

The man’s arrest comes as South Korea is experiencing a surge in cryptocurrency scams. In March, police chiefs announced the formation of a new devoted crypto scam-fighting unit. The unit is tasked with investigating and prosecuting cryptocurrency scammers.

Police are also battling a sharp rise in crypto-powered drug dealing. In 2022, the number of drug deals involving cryptocurrency increased by 250% compared to 2021.