Execs arrested from scam dating sites that had 2.7 mil users and only one female member

By Preston Phro, RocketNews24

Dating is never easy, is it? Going out and meeting strangers and talking to them can be painful, awkward, and downright terrifying. Fortunately, Internet dating sites have helped us cut through the trial-and-error process to find people we have deep, personal connections with — or, at least, who swiped right.

Unfortunately, online dating is also ripe for abuse, exploitation, and scams. If ever you needed a cautionary tale for being careful about who you give your money to, this group of dating site executives who ran multiple scam sites should suffice. Of the 2.7 millions users on the site, only one was a woman. The rest of the “women” the male members were chatting with online were all paid fakes!

A “sakura site” is a scam dating site that employs workers to chat with members to entice them into paying for services or memberships. While it might not seem like too big a deal at first glance, these sites often use photos and profiles ripped from other sites without permission and had raked in around 10 billion yen collectively in 2012 according to NHK. We imagine that number has ballooned a bit since then.

With the rise of these sites, legislation has been passed in Japan outlawing the practices, though it hasn’t exactly stopped manipulative jerks from setting up such sakura sites. Fortunately, it looks like the police are actively pursuing sakura site operators, as a group of eight executives were arrested last week for operating multiple scam sites.

The scam sites apparently had a total of 2.7 million members — and all but one of them were men! The sites employed male part-time workers to chat with the members, who reportedly paid in 6.6 billion yen since the sites started in 2004. One user allegedly spent around 13 million yen.

Obviously, being careful online is always important — like avoiding SourceForge and their bundled adware, not giving your bank information to Nigerian princes, and not spending excessive amounts of money on dating sites. But we also have to admit that it’s easy to be tricked.

So easy, in fact, Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency made a site warning people to be careful on dating sites. ABove is one ad they produced, mocking dating site ads common on the Internet. The text balloons read: “I’d like to meet you…(I get charged to send you messages?)” with the response “Sorry. I can’t meet you. (I’m just a sakura after all…).”

It’s important to note that the sites run by the arrested executives weren’t just rip-offs of, but also used messaging apps to spam users with mail from “cute girls” who were looking for someone to talk to. While we all know better than to respond to spam, Line makes it easy to add people as a friend, so it would be easy to trick people to thinking it’s a random acquaintance.

Sources: Sanspo, Otakomu

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Let this be a reminder to everyone: There’s no such thing as easy money -- What do kids love more than porn? Facebook and 2channel! -- Facebook users in Japan losing interest and heading for the exits

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These sorts of scams have been widespread in Japan (and elsewhere) long before the Internet.

Back in the late 1980s, I knew a non-Japanese 20-something guy who would make extra money going on dates with women who had registered with a dating agency that specialized in finding them Western boyfriends/potential husbands. The dating agency had a guarantee that its female clients would not have to pay for the agency's services unless the agency successfully set them up on a date with non-Japanese man who was a business professional.

So, once my acquaintance dated one of these women (and would a second date), they were bound to pay the fees, never knowing that it was a scam. He would get a free night out, expensive meal, and a load of cash in the end. Horrible on the part of the Japanese dating agency, horrible on the part of my acquaintance. (and yes, I should have reported it, but didn't.)

Anyway, caveat emptor (buyer beware).

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Is anyone surprised?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

That's one busy woman.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

one person paid 13 million yen? Desperate much? he could have had more a 1000 dates at the nearest soapland

8 ( +8 / -0 )

She must be very popular.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Maybe she wasn't even a woman. Jahahahaah

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Haha, this reminds me of an old episode of the Simpsons where Krusty calls a 'date line'

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Classic example of fools and their money being parted easily. Deiaikei sites have been around for ages and I can't really feel sorry for those who can't realize they are being catfished. Glad to hear that they are making some efforts to shut down these scammers though. You'd figure that some legitimate company would jump at the chance to fill the void in the market here.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Yesterday JT posted a story about 40 yr old virgins, and now this one where a guy spends 13 million yen on phone conversations. Somehow, I believe that both articles are related, and that guy who spent 13 million, belongs in the artlcle from yesterday too.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Of the 2.7 millions users on the site, only one was a woman.

Sounds like the last party I attended.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

like avoiding SourceForge and their bundled adware

I think you need to fire whoever did their source checking, SourceForge is a developer code website.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

gogogo: I think you need to fire whoever did their source checking, SourceForge is a developer code website.

A comment on the original rocket24news article (link says:

Jun 8, 2015: hahaha! looks like one have a teeth agaisnt sourceforge for the GIMP case, uh :D

from which a google search of "sourceforge gimp controversy" leads to somewhat recent news articles, such as:

Anatomy of SourceForge/GIMP controversy, Alexandre Prokoudine, 28. May, 2015

If you follow tech industry at all, you couldn't have missed a slew of reports yesterday that SourceForge took control over abandoned gimp-win account where GIMP installers for Windows used to be distributed from, and started providing their own offer-enabled installers instead. Ars Technica did a nice coverage of that, but there is oh so much more to the story. ... (cont.) ...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

So many of these dating websites are either thmselves scams or are an ideal place for scammers to dupe the lonely and vulnerable......

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Well at least the execs were arrested. That's some good news, and a contrast from the normal headlines where companies do outrageously illegal things and nobody is arrested.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Yup, there seem to be lesser and lesser proper ways to make good money. Feel sorry for the guys who paid money, wasted their time and ended up dejected. As if life wasn't already tough enough. And hey, what kind of a news article uses the phrase 'manipulative jerks'?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan now has the root cause of the drop in the fertility rate:

Execs arrested from scam dating sites that had 2.7 mil users and only one female member

1 ( +2 / -1 )

She wasn't real?? I was supposed to meet her for a drink Friday.....!!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

There's a new "Humanoid Ningyo Hotel" been built local to me.. There's definitely a shortage of women.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And hey, what kind of a news article uses the phrase 'manipulative jerks'?

RocketNews tends to be more along the tabloid genre rather than a legitimate news site. "Manipulative jerks" would fit right in with regards to a tabloid.

This story reminds me of the scams going around over a decade ago when I met my future wife (Russian) online. Until you actually spoke to them, you weren't sure if the person you were writing to was a real woman or was named "Yuri". The internet was rife with warnings even back then about the "Yuri scams" where they need money for a passport, then a plane ticket, then you never hear from them again. Not sure why they picked "Yuri" as the name of the guy operating the scam. I believe I was told one of the few who was caught was an old, fat, bald guy named "Yuri", but I have no idea if there was any truth to that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Trying to decide which fits better: A fool and his money are soon parted or there's a sucker born every minute.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This really embrassing. Those users who thought all the time is his dreamgirl,were suprised 'she' was dude. Feel gay lol

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I would not be surprised if it was maybe it was a website for Gay men ... that would explain why just the one woman. I remember reading a survey last month that said that gay dating websites in Japan were more popular than straight dating sites.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I used some Japanese dating sites 10 years ago for a short period when I was about 24. At the time I was new to Japan and kinda trusted Japanese things. Also I had never heard about scams in dating sites even in my own country. Of course I did realize some of the Japanese sites were suspicious, so I never used them, until a friend of mine gave me a Japanese magazine for my birthday with "Best dating sites ranking" as topic, and kinda oriented towards those who looks for a non serious relation (wasn't really my case though but u know, birthday joke + curiosity...).

Being a magazine, I thought it was more trustworthy and I seriously tried 3 sites from this magazine reviews, exchanged mails, used a bit of money (about 5000 yens overall), at least to be able to use the site and see that it was scam.

The reviews in the magazine were mentioning how likely it was to get "sakuras" (scam profiles) for each site (and other pros and cons). I didn't like how the sites were working from the start but having paid a bit of money, I did contact a few "girls" with whom I had some conversation. Being foreigner made it easier to detect very fast that these were scams. It appeared obvious that these whole sites were sakura, and therefore the magazine too.

What was the most surprising was how these sites seem to rely on the fact that male users should be really desperate and spend money to contact women, or give them money to meet them. As if in Japan women were a superior human being when it comes to love relations. From a foreigner point of view that felt really weird, but I know Japanese males pay everything to women when they try to date them so I wonder if Japanese males would fall deeper into these scams.

In my case I did pay a bit and regret it but it was more about the language/culture barrier and the site entry system than the scam women themselves. Although I have to say a few of them were really making a quite natural conversation and I had to ask for mail address to be able to see the trap. And even then, it wasn't that easy, because at that time I didn't know Japanese women well, and I was close to believe that Japanese girls didn't want to give their mail address before exchanging a lot of messages with someone.

In my case I mostly lost time, one or two email accounts, and about 5000 yens so not much of a deal but I must say I really don't trust Japanese dating sites, especially "adult dating" ones. I thought at least sites advertised in paper magazines would be serious ones, but actually not at all.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The setup this time around is quite characteristic of cyberspace especialy when you can't see your chat partner eyeball-to-eyeball. I think we'd better look before we leap.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"painful, awkward, and downright terrifying". You're kidding right?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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