Hye Ran Lee is wanted for her alleged involvement in a bank fraud scheme that involved Korean-Americans and South Korean nationals in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange and Riverside counties in California from approximately February of 2010 to approximately October of 2013.
Lee, along with 14 other individuals, had a base of operations located in or around Koreatown in Los Angeles. A multi-year investigation discovered Lee was a member of an organization of individuals allegedly committing bank fraud. Members of this organization conducted hundreds of financial fraud schemes, known as "account bustouts" in the banking industry or "kkang" in Korean.
A "bustout" is a fraudulent scheme designed to generate cash or credit in which the perpetrators first deposit a fictitious check that appears to be genuinely drawn on a real account into a checking or credit card account at a financial institution. Immediately thereafter, the subjects withdraw funds from the account into which the fictitious check was deposited. Once the fraudulent nature of the check is discovered and the check is dishonored by the institution, the account has been "busted."
Lee and several co-conspirators would serve as "runners" or "washers" who would, at the direction of other members of the conspiracy, deposit fictitious checks into, then withdraw funds from, the accounts to be "busted out." "Runners" or "washers" would also purchase goods, services, and gift cards that were the equivalent of cash with the proceeds of the "bustouts" and by incurring charges against credit card accounts that were "busted out."
On May 7, 2014, a federal arrest warrant was issued in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Los Angeles, California, for Lee and her co-conspirators, charging them with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, and aiding and abetting and causing an act to be done. On May 14, 2014, Lee's 14 co-conspirators were arrested.
To date, Lee remains the only indicted subject that has evaded arrest.
Lee has previously lived in Irvine and Los Angeles, California, as well as Hawaii. She is known to have traveled to Missouri, Mexico, and Argentina. She has ties to, and may have fled to, South Korea.