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[Newsmaker] ‘Infidelity investigator’ accused of outing sex-trade clients, violating privacy laws

A website promoting the services of an “infidelity private investigator” has stirred controversy in South Korea about the disclosure of personal information.

According to Seoul Gangnam Police Station, the site operator, a 36-year-old app developer surnamed Lee, was arrested Monday for allegedly violating Korea’s Personal Information Protection Act. He is accused of illegally obtaining personal data for unfaithful men and disclosing details to their romantic partners. He is currently under investigation by authorities.

Lee reportedly launched the controversial site in August, promising potential clients that he would dig up information about cheating boyfriends or spouses. 

(Screen-captured from site)
(Screen-captured from site)

Initially, he reportedly charged 30,000 won ($27) to look up a partner’s phone number at prostitution establishments by cross-checking it with their client lists. Later, he raised the fee to 50,000 won.

Clients who had used Lee’s site said they were told whether their partners had visited any sex-trade establishments, as well as the dates of those visits, and received related phone call logs. Some were even told their partners’ sexual preferences or fantasies.

During interrogation, Lee told authorities he had used the app “Golden Bell,” which he developed to help sex-trade businesses share information, to build a large database of frequent sex-trade clients.

He also told police that his website, “Infidelity P.I.,” had received around 800 requests for help from clients between Aug. 23 and Sept. 3 and that he’d made approximately 30 million won in profits during that time.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said Lee had collected around 18 million phone numbers of frequent sex-trade clients, including the numbers of police officers, and that a preliminary investigation confirmed he had disclosed information unlawfully.

Authorities said Lee had admitted to most of the charges and claimed to have carried out his actions to “make a living.” Police plan to request an arrest warrant. 

By Catherine Chung (