June 22 (UPI) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for tougher measures against fraudulent phone calls and text messages and the use of a national network to implement the steps on Monday.
Moon proposed the stricter measures at an anti-corruption policy meeting at the presidential Blue House. Eun Sung-soo, chairman of the Financial Services Commission, said he would create a pan-government task force to tackle the problem, commonly known as voice phishing, Yonhap and News 1 reported Monday.
The South Korean leader also called for efforts to end online gambling. Min Gap-ryong, commissioner general of the Korean National Police Agency, said he would "focus on a crackdown by the end of the year."
Moon said phone scams are becoming more sophisticated across digital platforms.
"Previously, there were mostly phone-based voice-phishing," Moon said. "Now there's a new term, 'smishing,' that describes the increasingly sophisticated ways of [text-based] fraud."
The president said the problem occurred during the government's distribution of disaster relief funds, about $1,000 per household, that could go toward purchases of foods and essential goods.
Scammers took advantage of the policy this year during the coronavirus outbreak, targeting people seeking the funds.
Phone scams are a serious problem in Korea, usually involving cybercriminals targeting unsuspecting victims with demands for cash and sometimes false offers. Senior citizens have often been targets, according to local press reports.
On Monday, Moon also called for various public reforms to curb corruption. Graft affecting government officials is re-emerging in the second half of his term, the president said, according to News 1.
South Korean Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae and Prosecutor General Yoon Suk-yeol were in attendance at the meeting at the presidential Blue House on Monday. The two officials are at odds over the bribery conviction of former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook. South Korea's ruling Democrats have said the conviction under former President Park Geun-hye was politically motivated.
In 2015, Han received a two-year prison sentence for receiving $760,000 in bribes.