I had to write about this IRS special agent because his fraud story is so wild. Bryan Cho (aka Yong Hee Cho) was a Special Agent in the IRS Criminal Investigation Division since 2008. And now he’s been charged with possession of a fake foreign passport, aggravated identity theft, making false statements during a background check, and wire fraud.
The story goes like this…. in 2018 there was an investigation into corrupt public officials in South Korea. It was discovered during that investigation that Cho was being bribed by public officials at South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) and National Tax Service (NTS). They give him money, and he gives them confidential information that he has access to by virtue of his employment with IRS-CI.
It was then discovered that Cho was one of the IRS employees who investigated the criminal activities of “John Doe.” No charges were brought against John Doe, but Cho used John Doe’s personally identifying information to get documents in the name of John Doe (but with Cho’s picture): identification cards for the Philippines and the Marshall Islands and a passport for Guinea-Bissau.
According to the indictment, Cho did things like:
- Lying on a government form provided to the National Background Investigations Bureau
- Falsifying documents (including tax returns and bank statements) used to to purchase of a co-op in New York.
- Purchased the co-op for $1.65 million (paid in full, not financed…. no, he wasn’t making that kind of money as an IRS employee)
It appears that the identity theft was done so Cho could establish accounts in foreign countries… and those accounts received the bribe money from the South Korean officials.
Mr. Cho is certainly not alone in abusing his position. But this one seems a little wilder than others I’ve seen. The whole passing of information about IRS investigations to South Korean officials who are depositing bribe money into bank accounts in the name of John Doe… is something else.