Looking at the poison pens and torch guns, you would be forgiven for thinking you were on a James Bond set. But these weapons are real and are still part of the arsenal of North Korean spies.

Agents from the most isolated country on Earth are not a thing of the past, said one man who claims his job once was to infiltrate South Korea on missions for the Kim regime.

Chosen for the job while still in high-school, Kim Dong-shik told CNN he was sent to a specialized university for four years where he learned skills including martial arts, scuba diving, how to shoot and rig explosives. Only years later when he was fully trained was he told why he had been chosen.

“When I was told I was going to be a spy… I felt stunned,” Kim said. “There have been many accidents in the past with spies. A lot who were sent to South Korea were killed, so I assumed I’d die.”

The physical training was only one part, Kim said; the psychological preparation was key.

“We were taught to be ready to die for the Kim regime and if caught, to make sure we were not taken alive,” he said.

Kim was shot by South Korean officials, in 1995, while on a mission in Seoul so was unable to commit suicide, he said. He claims his entire family was executed back in North Korea as punishment for him not fulfilling his destiny. CNN is unable to independently verify Kim’s claims as North Korea is one of the world’s most secretive countries.

READ: From traitors to poster children

Life of a spy

Kim says his first mission to South Korea in 1990 was to bring back a high-ranking agent he called Lee who had been working in the country for some time. His second was to try to recruit those with anti-government sentiments who may have sympathies towards the North.

Back then he said he communicated with HQ via short-wave radio. One program from Pyongyang that aired at midnight had an anchor reading numbers — he said that was code to tell him his next mission. He assumes methods of communicating are far more sophisticated now.

How they’re enticed

One former member of the elite, Kang Myong-do said North Korean spies are operating in countries across the world including the United States, where he estimates hundreds may be working at any one time. One of their main purposes is to try to recruit Korean-Americans who lean towards supporting North Korea, he said.

“There are three different tactics they use,” he said. “First is to give them free visas to North Korea, second, to give them access to do business and make money there and third, they use women to entice them. This tactic has been widely used since the ’80s.”

Kang said he used to work in the Unification Development Division in 1984. One of the duties of this division was to send spies to the U.S., South Korea and Japan, he said, adding that the division still exists to this day.

He said spies and the human intelligence they provide play a big role in maintaining Kim Jong Un’s regime. It’s a belief shared by Kim Dong-shik who says, “North Korea treats them very well. Spies are treated on the same level as generals, their education is to a similar high level. So it’s fair to say North Korea considers spies as very important.”





Joseph Furando


A New Jersey man and two companies he co-owns have pleaded guilty to federal charges in a biofuels scam that became one of the largest frauds in Indiana history and bilked taxpayers and fuel buyers out of tens of millions of dollars, prosecutors said.

Joseph Furando of Montvale, New Jersey, pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Indianapolis to all of the charges he faced, including conspiracy, wire fraud, lying to investigators and money laundering. Guilty pleas were also entered on behalf of Caravan Trading Co. and CIMA Green, for their roles in the scheme.

Prosecutors said Furando, his New Jersey-based companies, the companies’ co-owner and executives with an Indiana biofuels company who face a May trial claimed more than $55 million in ill-gotten profits through the scam. They allegedly sold truck stops and service stations 35 million gallons of fuel, charging prices well above what it was worth by claiming it was pure biofuel made from renewables such as animal fats and vegetable oils.

But that fuel actually contained some petroleum diesel and during the scheme the government paid out renewable energy tax credits and other benefits that should not have been paid because it wasn’t pure biofuel, prosecutors said.

The defendants allegedly reaped “huge” profits in the scheme that sometimes exceeded $12,000 per truckload of fuel, they said. The fuel was sold in several states in the Midwest, the South and along the East Coast, said U.S. attorney’s office spokesman Tim Horty.

After the September 2013 indictments, prosecutors said customers who purchased the fuel were defrauded of more than $55 million, while the Internal Revenue Service suffered $35 million in losses from the tax breaks and renewable energy credits awarded as part of the scam.

Under his plea, Furando, 49, has agreed to pay full restitution to his victims and forfeit real estate, sports cars – including a Ferrari he bought for $247,000 – jewelry, a piano, artwork and other luxury items he bought with proceeds from the scheme.

U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler said he’s pleased Furando has accepted responsibility for his role in the scam that involved nearly a dozen defendants and was one of the largest in Indiana history. He said the scam “defrauded U.S. taxpayers of tens of millions of dollars that Congress appropriated for energy independence and a cleaner environment for all of us.”

Messages seeking comment left Thursday for Furando’s attorney were not returned.

Furando’s sentencing has not been scheduled, but he faces up to 20 years in prison on some of the charges and large fines.

Evelyn Katirina Pattison, who co-owned Caravan Trading Co. and CIMA Green, pleaded guilty last July to one conspiracy charge in the scam. She has not yet been sentenced.

Middletown, Indiana-based E-Biofuels allegedly began the scam when three of its executives arranged to purchase fuel known as B99 – or biofuel blended with a small amount of petroleum diesel – from the two companies and resold it with fake documentation as B100, or pure biofuel.

Although E-Biofuels’ Middletown plant was capable of producing pure biofuel, prosecutors said it was rarely in operation during the scam that allegedly ran from July 2009 to May 2012.

Three E-Biofuels executives, brothers Craig, Chad and Chris Ducey, are scheduled to stand trial May 11 along with their company. They face conspiracy, wire fraud and other charges.



Diamond fraudster Anna Foord jetted around the world buying designer shoes and bags using cash she swindled from her victims

Diamond fraudster Anna Foord jetted around the
world buying designer shoes and bags using cash
she swindled from her victims


  • Anna Foord sold low grade diamonds at hugely inflated prices, court is told
  • Part of gang who sold coloured diamonds in £1.5million ‘boiler room’ scam
  • Foord, 30, was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering
  • Another gang member was found guilty while three others admitted similar charges

A diamond fraudster who jetted around the world buying designer shoes and bags using the cash she swindled from her victims is facing jail.

Anna Foord, of Elstree, Hertfordshire, convinced investors to buy low grade gems overvalued by up to 2,000 per cent, a court heard.

The 30-year-old even flew to New York to shop in Fifth Avenue’s most exclusive boutiques using the money she made.

She was part of a gang of fraudsters who lived lavish lifestyles by selling investors coloured diamonds in the £1.5m ‘boiler room’ scam.

But they were arrested and Foord was convicted of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering today while other members of the gang admitted similar charges.

Foord was clutching a £1,000 Louis Vuitton bag when police arrested her while it was later revealed how she had her collection of expensive Jimmy Choo shoes destroyed in an attempt to conceal the fraud.

The court heard how smooth-talking salesmen convinced clients the diamonds were a better investment prospect than gold and would pay handsome returns.

But in reality, the diamonds were ‘what the miners leave on the floor’ and the gang were using their victims as ‘cash cows’, the court heard.

Prosecutor Esther Schutzer-Weissman told how diamond investors lost in excess of £1.5m.

‘The caller was persuasive, the caller was persistent and always suggesting to the investor that purchasing coloured diamonds was an investment that would get good and reliable returns,’ she said.

‘They were told often that diamonds would be scarcer and rarer and therefore more valuable because a mine, or mines, were closing or had closed.

‘They were told this was a limited time opportunity and they were told that the investment was guaranteed to provide a good return, depending of course on how long the diamond was kept before selling on.

‘Calls would be followed by letters that provided more concrete information about the investment prospect of the stones.’

Shopping sprees of £6,135, £1,240 and £1,726 took place at Selfridges and Harrods in London and Bloomingdales in New York, the court heard.

One conman, Hider Eshpari, 28, boasted that he lived in a penthouse and drove a top of the range Audi A6 before duping a retiree out of £15,500.

The court heard one victim was told an orange yellow diamond’s worth would rocket at Chinese New Year when demand for the diamonds increased and he bought it for £14,450. But the gem was in fact worth just £440.

Farouq Eshpari (right) was found guilty of money laundering while Safia Eshpari (left) admitted a similar charge

Farouq Eshpari (right) was found guilty of money laundering while Safia Eshpari (left) admitted a similar charge

A jury unanimously found Foord guilty of one count of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering

Co-defendant Farouq Eshpari, 55, of Enfield, Middlesex, was also found guilty of money laundering.

Farouq’s sons, Omar Eshpari, 34, and Hider Eshpari, 28, admitted conspiracy to defraud before the trial while wife Safia Eshpari, 52, admitted money laundering.

Omar is already serving a seven year sentence for a £3million land banking fraud which preyed on elderly and vulnerable people.

Co-accused Billy Cosma, 23, was unanimously cleared of conspiracy to defraud and defendants Anton Howell, 28, and Rommell Brown, 31, were also cleared of two charges each of conspiracy to defraud.

Foord and the Eshpari family, all of Enfield, Middlesex, will return for sentence at Southwark Crown Court in May.

Speaking after the case, Detective Constable Claire Bailey of the City of London Police, said: ‘Boiler room fraud is a crime that destroys retirements and ruins lives.

Farouq's sons, Omar Eshpari (pictured), 34, and Hider Eshpari, 28, admitted conspiracy to defraud before the trialFarouq's sons, Omar Eshpari, 34, and Hider Eshpari (pictured), 28, admitted conspiracy to defraud before the trial

Farouq’s sons, Omar Eshpari (left), 34, and Hider Eshpari (right), 28, admitted conspiracy to defraud before the trial

Shopping sprees of £6,135, £1,240 and £1,726 took place at Selfridges and Harrods (pictured) in London and Bloomingdales in New York, the court heard

Shopping sprees of £6,135, £1,240 and £1,726 took place at Selfridges and Harrods (pictured) in London and Bloomingdales in New York, the court heard

‘Victims were led to believe they were investing their savings in diamonds that could only increase in value and would provide them with regular and healthy dividends when in reality they were putting their money and trust in a carefully constructed scam designed to make the fraudsters a fortune.

‘The City of London Police are very pleased this complex and extensive investigation has finally resulted in this organised crime gang facing the justice they deserve, something that I hope will provide some solace to their victims.

‘We would also advise anyone who is contacted by a cold-caller trying to sell them something to simply hang up the phone and do not engage with this person on any level.’

Speaking after the verdicts Rommell Brown, 31, spoke of his relief at clearing his name.

‘The right verdict has been passed – the correct people have been found innocent and the correct people have been found guilty.

‘I just want to say to the victims as well, I am sorry and I did work for those people in good faith and I am sorry for the losses that have been incurred as well – I truly am,’ he said.



The property sits within 58 acres of landscaped grounds, formal gardens & woodland and offers several ponds with fountains, a heated marble driveway, helipad, a lake, tennis court, security lodge & two guest homes. The home itself is 52,000 square feet and features over 103 rooms including a bowling alley, two indoor & three outdoor swimming pools, panic room, an underground squash court, 50 seat cinema, underground garage for at least 8 limos and 22 bedrooms.


  • Baljit Singh Bhandal built a huge fortune from fraudulent alcohol business
  • Bought Updown Court in Surrey and redeveloped the giant mansion 
  • He was put on trial for money laundering but the court case collapsed
  • Businessman sued HMRC claiming he could have made £66million from Updown Court if it hadn’t been seized by investigators
  • But a High Court judge ruled today that he was guilty of the crimes 

A businessman who once owned the world’s most expensive home but was then exposed as a fraudster has failed in his claim to claw back £66million from the taxpayer after his mansion was seized by the State.

Baljit Singh Bhandal bought and developed Updown Court, a 100-room mansion in Surrey, using the proceeds from money laundering and evading tax on alcohol sales.

HM Revenue and Customs took control of the home as part of an investigation into his business – but his prosecution on fraud charges subsequently collapsed.

However, today a High Court judge told him he was not entitled to compensation because it was ‘beyond any reasonable doubt’ that he was in fact guilty of the crimes he was accused of.

Bhandal bought Updown Court in the 1990s, after it had been practically gutted by the Great Storm of 1987, and rebuilt the interiors in a lavish style.

The home was raided by HMRC in 2001, after Bhandal was accused of smuggling duty-free alcohol out of the bonded warehouse where it was stored and selling it on the black market.

He was taken to court, but the case collapsed when it emerged that the manager of the warehouse was a police informant.

Bhandal jumped bail and left the country using a false passport during the failed trial, but on his return to the UK in 2005 he was jailed for eight years for attempted kidnap.

In his latest legal struggle, he argued that HMRC owed him millions in compensation because he would have been able to develop and sell Updown Court if he had not been arrested and prosecuted on the fraud charges.

Government lawyers insisted that he was guilty all along despite the collapse of the trial, saying: ‘There was no acquittal on the merits and it was clear that massive fraud had been committed.’

They claimed the seizure of the mansion was legitimate because it had been bought using the proceeds of crime.

Mr Justice Collins today dismissed Bhandal’s case, saying: ‘I regarded him as a thoroughly unsatisfactory witness.

‘I am satisfied beyond any reasonable doubt that he is guilty of the criminal conduct alleged against him and that Updown Court was acquired from the proceeds of crime.’

The house in Windlesham, Surrey was said to be the most expensive home on the market anywhere in the world when it went up for sale for £70million.

It was owned by property tycoon Leslie Allen-Vercoe, who claimed to have spent £30million on renovating it – but it passed into the hands of the Irish government when he was unable to pay the mortgage he had taken out with a State-owned bank.

The property was finally sold to an unidentified buyer, said to be a foreign businessman, for £35million in October 2011.

Updown Court is situated in a 58-acre estate, with 24 bedrooms, a 50-seat cinema, six swimming pools and a heated marble driveway.

It boasts decadent luxury features such as mosaics made out of real gold, and more practical amenities including a panic room and escape tunnels.

The house featured in the 2010 film Green Zone, starring Matt Damon, where it portrayed a palace in Baghdad.