A 26-year-old Washington woman who extorted online dates for more than $300,000 was given only a one-month jail sentence because she showed remorse.
Seul Ki Yum pleaded guilty last Friday during her sentencing hearing in King Country Superior Court in downtown Seattle.
“I am very ashamed and very embarrassed of my behavior,” she told Judge Lori K. Smith. “I would give anything back to have a normal life.”
According to court documents, the woman engaged in money extortion from men she found on online dating sites over a three-year period. The incident report lists seven men from whom she managed to extort money.
Her defense attorney Michelle Shaw argued for the lowest sentence of 30 days in jail and 60 days of electronic home detention because it’s the woman’s first crime and she showed remorse for her actions.
“Her empathy for the victims, her true level of remorse … are higher than any I’ve come across,” the defense attorney said.
The prosecutors agreed with the reasoning and the sentence.
Court documents show that Yum met men through online dating sites like OKCupid, Tinder and Seeking Arrangements and dated them for a while before starting to blackmail them.
After stopping seeing the victims, the woman would approach them saying she was pregnant and needed money for abortion. She also threatened to reveal their relationship to the men’s wives and work colleagues.
After receiving money in exchange for her silence, she would go back to the men and ask for more money, this time for mental health care or rent.
In one instance, the woman threatened to split up the family of a high-end wine retailer in California unless he gave her $10,000 a month. The victim apparently paid her $240,000 over a two-year period.