Charges: Woman extorted online dates for thousands
A 25-year-old woman extorted several men she met online for thousands of dollars by fabricating abortion and mental health care and threatening to disclose her relationships with married men, King County prosecutors say.
Seul Ki Yum is charged with four counts of second-degree extortion for regular, calculated blackmailing of Seattle-area men she met through various dating websites for several years.
A joint investigation between the Seattle Police Department and FBI indicates that Yum extorted at least seven men by either lying to them about needing abortion money, vowing to expose their extramarital relationships to their family and co-workers and other means of drawing cash from them hundreds to thousands of dollars at a time.
She managed to reel in well-heeled men, including business executives and attorneys who lost thousands of dollars in exchange for her silence.
Yum reportedly met a man in July 2010 through OK Cupid, but their relationship fizzled out after a month. Two years later, Yum reached out to the man again for a meeting and they dated for another month.
The man told authorities he ended the relationship after learning that Yum lied to him about her work and friends and suspected she was dating other men. He obtained a one-year no-contact order in August 2012 to prevent Yum from reaching him, reports say.
After the expiration of the court order, Yum reportedly texted the man in Nov. 11, "Hi, you owe me money." She claimed that she became pregnant with the man's child and wanted him to pay $400 for half her abortion costs. The man paid the money, but the next day, Yum wrote him, "I had to get the abortion and then recover while dealing with your court order because you thought I was 'obsessed with you," and asked for an additional $400, investigative reports say.
The man did not pay the extra $400, so Yum allegedly continued to harass him through text messages and threatened to show up to his work for the money and call and email all his co-workers. It's unclear in the reports whether the man paid the additional $400, but he resisted a demand for another $600 months later and filed a police report, court records say.
A man completing a surgical residency at a local hospital met Yum through OK Cupid in March 2013, reports indicate.
They saw each other about six of seven times before she allegedly disclosed that she would date other people, prompting the man to say that he, too, would see other women. Yum reportedly grew angry at the man's statement, and her reaction was so "irrational" that he decided to stop seeing her, reports say. The man met his future wife soon thereafter.
A few weeks after they stopped dating, Yum allegedly told the man that she was pregnant with their child and that either she would have the child and sue him for child support or he could date her again and she would consider an abortion.
The man reportedly pretended to date Yum again to see whether she was pregnant. She told the man she had an abortion, court documents say. But when he declined to keep seeing her, she allegedly said that she did not have an abortion and was still pregnant. Weeks later, she told the man she had the abortion and demanded $750, then $1,050. The man answered both of her demands.
In September 2013, Yum then allegedly told the man that if he did not pay her $15,000, she would disclose their relationship to his current partner and would-be wife and tell her that he was dating both women at the same time. She also threatened to disclose their relationship to his co-workers, reports say. The man reportedly made a series of payments adding up to $15,000 over time for her silence.
Once all $15,000 had been paid, she demanded another $3,000, which he ultimately paid after she threatened to publicize their relationship and post nude pictures of the man online.
In 2014, she demanded that the man sell a ring he purchased for his partner and give her the money, reports indicate. He told her that he notified authorities, to which she reportedly responded by threatening to send screen captures of their texting conversations to his partner, her family and co-workers.
The man estimated that he had paid Yum at least $24,000 in extortion payments. After he refused to sell the ring and give her more money, she allegedly posted nude pictures of the man to his partner's Instagram page.
In mid-April 2014, Tum met a man who worked at his family-owned wealth management business through Tinder and dated him for two weeks.
Reports say she ended the relationship after the man failed to immediately respond to her texts and emails and then texted him, "by the way, I lied about being on birth control." In June 2014, she reportedly demanded money for an abortion because she was pregnant with their child. As with the previous victim, she claimed she would have the child and sue him for child support payments if he did not give her abortion money.
A week later, Yum texted him continuing to demand that he wire her money, writing messages such as, "I guess you want me to keep it. Is it cool if I start telling your family and friends as well as the staff at your Dad's work and Mom's school?"
The man finally sent her $1,000. However, Yum allegedly continued to harass him and his family, claiming she was considering not having the abortion and filing sexual harassment complaints against the man. The man's family ultimately filed for an anti-harassment order against Yum.
In August, Seattle police came across this victim, a high-end wine retailer in Berkeley, Calif., when the FBI was investigating him for running a Ponzi scheme in which he allegedly sold millions of dollars in non-existent wine futures.
The man was federally indicted and, as part of the investigation, agents learned that he transferred nearly $240,000 to Yum. He told investigators that Yum had been blackmailing him for money since mid-2014 after meeting her on an internet dating site and having sex in California.
After their meeting, Yum allegedly began a campaign to demand money from him to prevent her from spilling their sexual encounter to his wife and family. The man told authorities he has paid Yum about $10,000 a month for about two years.
Because Yum reportedly continued to demand payments from him, the FBI recorded a phone call between the two in which Yum repeatedly blackmailed him and told him he is behind on his payments to her.
Investigators looking into Yum's case contacted an attorney who made two deposits to her banking account totaling $7,700 in 2013.
The man admitted to detectives that he is married, but met Yum through the dating website Seeking Arrangements and met her for coffee on one occasion. The two never had sex, he maintained.
After their single date, Yum reportedly told him that her roommate knew his wife and might tell her about their meeting. She then mentioned that her roommate was having financial issues, so the man sent Yum $6,700 for "tuition," reports indicate. After that payment was made, Yum allegedly extorted him for another $1,000 after she claimed she needed a new laptop.
The same day he paid the $1,000, Yum reportedly told the man that her roommate was "not satisfied" and that this roommate needed a high-end purse worth thousands of dollars to maintain her silence.
To cut Yum's leverage, the man told his wife and his law partners about his situation, court records say. An attorney at the man's law firm notified Yum that she could face legal consequences should she continue to extort him.
Detectives found another married man during the course of their investigation who also deposited money to Yum totaling about $3,000 to $4,000.
The man had no sexual encounter with Yum, but met her once for coffee in 2014 after meeting her through Seeking Arrangements. Two weeks after the date, Yum threatened to tell his wife and family about his online dating. The man at one time wrote her a $1,000 check from a corporate account and gave her thousands more on other occasions, reports say.
Weeks later, Yum allegedly claimed that she was pregnant by the man's son and demanded $800 for an abortion. The son denied any involvement with Yum and did not know her, court records indicate.
A chief executive officer at a local legal services firm reportedly met Yum through Seeking Arrangements in September, despite being married with children.
They reportedly had sex during a meeting in Bellevue, after which Yum demanded money from him because she needed money for an apartment and had no income, court papers say. Yum allegedly threatened to expose him as a "cheater" and threatened to come to his home and office if he did not pay her. When the man threatened to call police and seek a restraining order, Yum countered that she would report to police that he raped her, according to investigative reports.
The man paid her $1,000, but she allegedly demanded another $9,000.
He took his case to Seattle police, who equipped him with an audio recorder to use during a meeting in which he would appear to give Yum $5,000. This meeting took place Oct. 17. Police arrested her after the arranged meeting.
In an interview with detectives, Yum reportedly admitted to extorting men.