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African gang clears over ¥100 million in marriage scams before police lower the boom

17 Comments
This illustration appears in a brochure issued last October by the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan. It quotes a woman in her 70s, who said: "I received a mail from a man who I'd met via an SNS, who claimed to be physician with the U.S. military. He said after retirement he wanted to become my lifelong partner. He said he would send me money and gold ingots, and asked me to take receipt. He needed $1,500 for insurance and postage. Afterwards he made numerous requests for more money, claiming he had been detained at the airport and needed to pay a clearance fee. I remitted 2 million yen." A warning at the bottom reads, BE WARY OF INTERNATIONAL ROMANCE FRAUDS THAT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FEELINGS OF LOVE OR KIND SENTIMENTS.

For some crooks, marriage scams via social media are simply too lucrative to pass up. Nikkan Gendai (June 16) reports that one team from Africa racked up illegal gains in excess 100 of million yen before they were tracked down and arrested. 

Feigning to be a South Korean physician, the team cheated one woman in Kanagawa Prefecture in her 60s out of 3.68 million yen. 

The men's actual identities were revealed upon their  arrest on June 12 by the International Investigation section of the Hyogo Prefectural Police, working in conjunction with other police forces. Tiba Scott Taa (phonetic) a resident of Toyonaka City in Osaka, was a teacher of English conversation at a primary school; Ekoge Leone Esanbe (phonetic) was a salaried employee. Both were 31-year-olds from Cameroon. 

Upon interrogation, the two admitted to having defrauded women on the internet with promises of marriage, to the tune of at least 125,000,000 yen. 

The typical technique was for one of the men to contacted a target by requesting she friend him on Facebook. Afterwards, the two would exchange frequent posts via Line, and eventually "romance" would blossom. 

The fraudster's technique involved him saying he had arranged for a shipment "containing 2 billion yen." 

"Once I take out my cut, you can keep the rest," he texted.

The scam involved successive demands for "shipping costs," "changing the name of the recipient," "late delivery fee" and so on, with the target strung along by the promise she would ultimately be allowed to keep half of the 2 billion yen. 

According to Nikkan Gendai, so far 16 men from Cameroon, Nigeria, Vietnam, China and Japan, based in Tochigi, Niigata, Hyogo and Nara prefectures, have been indicted on similar frauds. 

"Ekoge was the bagman," says a police source close to the investigation. "Together with his cohort and the two men's wives, they accessed 22 bank accounts, making illegal withdrawals between April 2020 and March of this year, amounting to 125 million yen.

"They would feign to be a physician or an employee of the United Nations, or a member of the US military. They typically said they were in Yemen. They would send a photo of a good-looking hunk and come on strong to the women, promising marriage and defrauding them without ever meeting them in person. 

"Women haven't been the only victims," the police source adds. "There have been cases of single males defrauded as well."

The Kyodo wire service reported similar cases of fraud in January 2019, but apparently too many people missed, or forgot, that bit of news.  

If a dashing foreigner you meet online asks to become your friend, it's best to be on your guard, the article warns.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

17 Comments
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If a dashing foreigner you meet online asks to become your friend, it's best to be on your guard, the article warns.

Nice little bit of xenophobia at the end. Disregarding the Japanese arrested as part of this fraud ring, the 'It's Me" scam posters everywhere, the domestic ransomeware and 'one ring' scams, the "black companies" defrauding employees Japanese and foreign....

You could do this all day just with what is reported here.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

Sad but how do people fall for these scams? Happens in many countries.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

I know with children, you can limit their access to various sites and there are firewalls to protect them. Are their apps that the elderly can download warning them of fraud? Or something to monitor their messages? It seems like something like that is long overdo to be made. The elderly have a really hard time with these frauds when they don't have family around to them to help.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I knew a couple people from africa who used to charge low value women to be their “boyfriend”, and the women would gladly pay for the attention and status.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Disgusting behavior, who ever does it.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

If a dashing foreigner you meet online asks to become your friend, it's best to be on your guard, the article warns.

Don't tell me, ore-ore scams are also done by foreigners.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Return any money found in their possession. Jail them and repatriate to home country on release. Never to set foot in Japan again.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

zichiToday  07:46 am JST

Sad but how do people fall for these scams? Happens in many countries.

1glennToday  09:07 am JST

Disgusting behavior, who ever does it.

How the hell would you know that the person on the other end is real? About 30 years ago on late night TV there were these 'romance'/porn/dirty talk lines advertised. Only a fool would fall for that.

On the plus side, police use this stupid medium posing as teenagers and that's how they nail down the perverts. Posing as disgusting people in order to arrest disgusting people and keep them from committing crimes.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

16 men from Cameroon, Nigeria, Vietnam, China and Japan?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Can't these women control themselves?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

These evil scammers play on the women's feelings of loneliness and desire for financial security.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Pukey2June 18 10:56 am JST

If a dashing foreigner you meet online asks to become your friend, it's best to be on your guard, the article warns.

Don't tell me, ore-ore scams are also done by foreigners.

Some of those arrested in the UK for such scams claimed they were inspired by British media reports of Japanese ore-ore fraud. There was a story about it in the Guardian a while ago.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

These evil scammers play on the women's feelings of loneliness and desire for financial security.

Yes certainly to the former. I suspect the scammers push the romance angle as far as they can before the "send me some money so I can send you more" scam begins.

A "desire for financial security" is pretty much universal. I'm raising three kids and have a strong one myself. I doubt that desire in itself is anywhere near enough for people to get drawn into scams. The way to fool people is to hook them in with emotions, romantically or with ideas of self-improvement ("unleash your inner power" etc.). It is these emotions that cause people to ignore their better judgment.

As for these men, seize their assets, lock them up, and then kick them out of the country.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Together with his cohort and the two men's wives, they accessed 22 bank accounts

So the wives, presumably Japanese, are suspects. How come their names aren't disclosed?

Since no one seems to have been convicted of any crime, or even charged, the writer needs to describe the events in terms of police allegations, not as facts. Pretty irresponsible, JT.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Since no one seems to have been convicted of any crime, or even charged, the writer needs to describe the events in terms of police allegations, not as facts. Pretty irresponsible, JT.

1) What writer? It's a translation from Nikkan Gendai.

2) Then I guess it was even more irresponsible for the suspects to confess: "Upon interrogation, the two admitted to having defrauded women on the internet with promises of marriage, to the tune of at least 125,000,000 yen."

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I lost a fortune to a Nigerian Princess whose bank account had been temporarily frozen by her government, one time...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I lost a fortune to a Nigerian Princess whose bank account had been temporarily frozen by her government, one time...

The same Princess was after me for many years… lol ! She couldn’t get a single pound out of me.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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