Friday, January 6, 2012

Police: Woman claimed abuse, then burglarized homes

While not a case of a false rape/sexual assault, I thought this warranted posting:

Investigators have arrested a woman accused of using fake identities to file false police reports against people she then stole from while they were in custody, authorities said.

Sunmee Kim, 36, was arrested in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles on Dec. 21, a week after authorities say she made a false domestic-violence report in Irvine, Lt. Julia Engen said.

Using what turned out to be a stolen identity, Kim told police she had been abused by a 44-year-old Irvine businessman, Engen said. She displayed injuries that appeared to be consistent with domestic violence but that police now believe to have been self-inflicted, Engen added.

While the businessman was in police custody, authorities allege Kim cleaned out his home.

An Irvine patrol officer became suspicious about the fact that Kim hadn't provided an ID and during a follow-up interview asked her for a photograph from a government identification card, Engen said.

The officer was reportedly unconvinced by a photograph Kim provided and decided to run her fingerprints through a law enforcement database.

The search turned up her actual name, which didn't match the one she had provided police, Engen said. Authorities allege Kim fled when the officer confronted her.

Engen said their investigation has "revealed a long, complex pattern of false identities and false reports" that Kim is suspected of carrying out, including "grand theft, extortion, fraud and identity theft."

The cases appear to follow a pattern of Kim stealing and assuming women's identities and targeting Korean businessmen, Engen said.

Investigators say Kim meets the businessmen at, quickly establishes a relationship, takes their money both with and without their knowledge, forces a confrontation to get the men arrested, steals their possessions while they are in jail and then leaves.

At the time of her arrest, there were two warrants in Kim's name, Engen said.

The first warrant stemmed from a 2009 Los Angeles incident in which authorities allege Kim attempted to get a man she was staying with to provide ransom money after claiming that she had been kidnapped and assaulted.

The second warrant was a 2010 Garden Grove incident in which police allege that Kim made a false attempted robbery report against a man she was in a brief relationship with and then stole from him while he was in police custody.

Authorities also believe that Kim may be tied to three additional cases, including:

•An Orange police case from August 2011 in which Kim is alleged to have reported that a businessman she had a brief relationship with, along with his family, had kidnapped and assaulted her. While the family was in custody, police allege, Kim stole their property, along with financial documents and paperwork with personal identification.

•When Kim fled from the Irvine officer who confronted her, investigators say, she left behind paperwork identifying a woman she had met on the Internet who was visiting from Korea. They allege Kim allowed the woman to stay with her in Los Angeles, tricked her into leaving the apartment while visiting a day spa and while she was gone stole her clothing, jewelry and passports.

•When Kim was found in Koreatown at the time of her arrest, investigators say, she was staying with a Korean woman she had met a few days earlier. They allege she had claimed to have been recovering from cancer and that she was in the process of stealing the woman's identity.

"Our fear is that she has successfully pulled this off under assumed names in the past and the people for whatever reason haven't reported it," Engen said.

Authorities are asking anyone with information about the case or who thinks they may be a victim to contact Irvine Detective Sean Paul Crawford at 949-724-7249.