In an apparent hoax, at least six U.S. legislators received in the mail checks for substantial campaign contributions from a person posing as a Korean official of Korea Airlines, according to Justice Department sources.
The checks, turned over by the legislators to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, were traced back to "an emotionally disturbed persons," according to the sources.
Approximately 10 days ago, Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) received a check for $70,000 in an envelope postmarked Honolulu, Hawaii, according to Roy Greenaway, Cranston's administrative assistant. The check and an accompanying letter were signed with two different Asian names.
According to Greenaway, the letter's author said he was an employee of Korean Airlines and that the check was for a campaign contribution. The letter's author said he hoped that Cranston "would be friendly to us in the future."
Cranston's office turned the check over to the FBI.
A Justice Department official told The Washington Post yesterday that the check, drawn on a Honolulu bank, and the letter were traced to an individual who "apparently was playing a trick. We don't anticipate pursuing this further."
The Justice Department official would not say if the individual was in fact Korean or whether he was in anyway connected to Korean Airlines.
In the wake of recent news stories about South Korean attempts to buy influence with U.S. legislators, newspapers have received allegations about many South Korean corporations operating in this country. Most allegations have apparently come from individuals opposed to the regime of South Korean President Park Chung Hee.
The Justice Department official would not comment on whether the individual involved has any ties to anti-Park groups.