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