How a now-cybersecurity professor once helped track a thief who used his identity to extort $50,000

How a now-cybersecurity professor once helped track a thief who used his identity to extort $50,000How a now-cybersecurity professor once helped track a thief who used his identity to extort $50,000
Bryan Ke
May 25, 2022
A cybercrime and cybersecurity professor at Boston University Metropolitan College (BU MET) once helped the authorities track down the person who stole his identity and scammed South Korean citizens out of tens of thousands of dollars in 1999.
Speaking to BU Today, Dr. Kyung-shick Choi recalled how he once became a victim of cybercrime while he was still studying criminal justice at Northeastern University in the late ‘90s.

Choi, who now heads BU MET’s programs in Cybercrime Investigation and Cybersecurity, said he studied economics for a semester in South Korea in the hopes of taking over his father’s business one day. After his father’s death, however, Choi admitted that he “couldn’t feel the passion about [economics]” and became a police officer instead.
Following this transition, Choi ended up studying criminal justice in Boston. Things took a surprising turn in 1999 when the Korean National Police called him and said he was suspected of scamming South Korean citizens out of over $50,000 by posing as a struggling college student to gain their confidence. He denied these allegations and noted that he used to be a police officer in his native South Korea.
Choi then helped the authorities locate the person behind the theft. He discovered that one of his friends had seen his personal website, which contained details about his academic background, his experiences with law enforcement and more. She showed Choi’s website to her husband, who eventually pretended to be Choi to scam five victims in South Korea. These victims believe that they were helping Choi with his college tuition.
I could easily track an IP because it [was] a dial-up. … He used all the money, according to him, just for their honeymoon,” Choi told BU Today.
The father of Choi’s friend eventually reimbursed the victims. Meanwhile, Choi cut ties with his friend and her husband.
Despite clearing his name in South Korea, however, Choi found himself under suspicion among his peers and teachers back in Boston.
Because — think about that — it’s a one-year process, and my professor kind of gives me a suspicious look whenever I go to class because they thought I did it,” the BU MET professor was quoted as saying.
I’m the only Asian student in the entire program, so very noticeable,” he added. “They know I do technology. So it was extremely uncomfortable, just continuing studying at Northeastern. [That] one year was a horrible year for me. I couldn’t really sleep.”
The founding editor and editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Cybersecurity Intelligence & Cybercrime (IJCIC), Choi has facilitated the Virtual Forum Against Cybercrime (VFAC), a Korean Institute of Criminology global cybercrime project in collaboration with the United Nations. He is also the founder of the White Hat Conference and has several years’ worth of experience in “designing and delivering law enforcement training programs in cybercrime investigation, including computer forensics and child exploitation investigation.”
He believes it is now more important than ever to have cybercrime studies since we are undergoing what he considers to be the fourth industrial revolution. This latest transition, he explained, incorporates the use of cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud technology and artificial intelligence (AI), among others.
This is the age of global connectivity, providing the power to transform entire systems of production, management, and governance through the cyber-physical system,” Choi told the Center for CIC in 2018.
Choi is also currently working with the U.S. Department of Justice on various projects to “train the next generation of cyber sleuths.” One of the projects, known as the “Student Computer Forensics and Digital Evidence Educational Opportunities Program,” has received $1,762,402 in funding to date.
Featured Image via BU – Metropolitan College
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