More Japanese women falling for 'international romance frauds'


"That guy took advantage of my kindness and cheated me out of a lot of money. I absolutely can't forgive him!"

So declares the pseudonymous "Haruka," a 30-year-old English instructor at a Tokyo high school, to Friday (Aug 10). She fell victim to what the magazine is calling a new type of "It's me, send money" scam, described as "international romance fraud," in which wily foreign fraudsters have been bilking Japanese females out of large amounts of money.

Haruka describes what happened: "In April of this year, I was contacted in English by a man who went by the name of 'Aran Oden' (phonetic) to become his friend via a social network site. He said he was employed by the National Security Agency at a U.S. Air Force base in Turkey, where his job involved materials procurement. He was good at talking about all kinds of topics, and thinking it would help me polish my English skills, we began corresponding."

About two weeks transpired during which "Aran" and Haruka exchanged messages. Then he requested she contact him via Line, and he began sending her photos of his muscular physique in a state of undress, and Haruka, although initially on her guard, began feeling the stirrings of affection.

Then all of a sudden he wrote her, "Honey, I'm crazy about you."

"I'd studied in the U.S. and knew how open Americans tend to be, so I went along," she relates. "More than that, he told me his parents had died when he was just 10 years old and he had been raised by an uncle, and I felt sympathetic toward him..."

About one month into their online relationship, "Aran" began his pitch. "The uncle who raised me just passed away," he wrote her. "I inherited his assets but I am not able to transfer the money from the account in the States to the one here, because I can't use the military server. Can you handle the transaction for me?"

Following Aran's instructions, Haruka went online to check his account's balance and found it contained $4.75 million -- roughly 500 million Japanese yen.

A bank "employee" going by the name of Cathy told Haruka that in order to transfer money from Aran's account, a service charge equivalent to 1% of the total amount had to be paid. "If the funds aren't received within one month, the entire balance will be confiscated by the U.S. government," Cathy warned her.

"I'm really sorry, but can you advance the funds?" Aran pleaded. "I'll definitely pay you back."

Haruka reluctantly went along with his request, making four separate transfers for a total of 5 million yen -- equivalent to the 1% of the Aran's "inheritance."

"I finally realized I'd been scammed several days after the last transmission, on June 13, when a man who claimed to be Aran's boss sent me a message informing me that Aran been shot and killed by a Turkish terrorist," she relates bitterly. "At that point I finally realized the account, and bank employee 'Cathy' were completely made up. It was a huge mistake for me to have swallowed his sob story."

"This type of scam can be characterized by the details that go into their making," Terue Shinkawa, a family counselor who is affiliated with the Kokusai Romansu Sagi Bokumetsu Kyokai (Association for eliminating international romance fraud). She is also author of an e-book warning of the dangers of online romances.

"Like Haruka's case, it's common for the online 'relationship' to last for a month or so. The names of real banks or people are used to draw in the victim," she says. "The number of cases have been increasing, as perpetrators are able to open multiple SNS accounts.  

"So far, through questionnaire surveys, we've been able to confirm at least 140 Japanese have been swindled, with losses ranging from 300,000 yen to a maximum of 15 million yen," Shinkawa adds. 

The association's website ( provides links to related resources in other countries and provides a link to a Facebook page in which photos of the accused perpetrators, supplied by their victims, have been posted. Many are shown clad in U.S. military uniforms. 

Attorney Yoji Ochiai tells the magazine that Japanese police are reluctant to get involved in pursuing foreigners outside the country. "They obtain data about the crooks from Interpol, but can't use it as evidence. And there are numerous other factors that make it difficult to file criminal charges," he explains.

© Japan Today

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Its the old Nigerian prince email in a different form! Can't believe people fall for this. I do feel bad for old people that are targeted, but young people should know better.

20 ( +20 / -0 )

when a man who claimed to be Aran's boss sent me a message informing me that Aran been shot and killed by a Turkish terrorist," 


Yeah, because there are no Turkish terrorists, only Kurdish terrorists.

Anyway, back to LINE.

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

What out if the guy claims to be Captain Jim Kirk.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Sounds like she initially got sucked in by the appeal of some free English lessons. Rather than being a lonely person looking for love, she just thought she had chanced upon something for nothing.

Online English lessons are a few hundred yen an hour.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Just a few days ago there was in article in JT about how Japanese people trust people they meet online less than do the people of any other country. I thought that was a reasonable attitude to take, and I rest my case again now. Poor 'Haruka' has learned the hard way.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

She learnt the hard way and it's good these experiences are coming out more and more in Japan.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

What.... an.... idiot.

Perhaps. But can you not feel tinge of compassion?

2 ( +6 / -4 )

This fraud has been around for years. The US soldier serving abroad scam is very prolific.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Hey if your that stupid....

well good luck.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I actually knew a woman who kept falling for these stupid scams, I swear every year she would be scammed again and again for various reasons and one of them was a romance scam. I remember she told me something about how she met some rich Hong Kong banker and they were planning to get married. Oh, and he needed some help with transferring banking funds or some nonsense, guess how it turned out. At one point I joked that she might as well just give me her money next time, at least I'd put it to much better use!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

"Association for eliminating international romance fraud"


3 ( +3 / -0 )

This fraud has been around for years. The US soldier serving abroad scam is very prolific.

Exactly. Tbh it's not that different from the 'thai gf' scam. Plenty of desperate, gullible, vulnerable and yes, dumb, gaijin blokes still fall for it pretty much every day. ' Give me money, mamma is sick!' oh ok, how much?

Ps: it's called the 'thai gf scam' but it happens all around the world. I think blokes are even more gullible/needy than women ( in general).

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Very sorry this happened to you. It should never happen to anyone.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Many Japanese people seem to be very trusting of their fellow humans. I suppose that's the reason this kind of scam works so well in Japan, and why they are also a juicy target for pickpockets & thieves when abroad. They are also a dream come true for market traders and peddlers of tourist tat around the globe; they usually pay the price they are asked to pay without haggling. A victim of their own good nature.

I feel very sorry for this lady, I'm sure the piece of dirt that robbed her will get pinched someday.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

As soon as he asks for money, it should already be a big red sign flashing in all glorious color. I though just not too long ago in JT that most Japanese does not trust people online??? She must be in the minority.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

My girlfriend falls for every scam she sees on the internet (she's not Japanese - Filipina - but has been in Japan long enough to think like a Japanese woman)... number of times I have had to show her how the scam works... crikey!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

What out if the guy claims to be Captain Jim Kirk.

Then she could have said she’d beam him the money.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

What do you call it when a “friend”, a colleague, asks for a loan, fails to repay it and skips the country? This probably happens more often. I’ve heard of cases.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There's one born (and taken in) every minute.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What do you call it when a “friend”, a colleague, asks for a loan, fails to repay it and skips the country?

A confidence scam.

Friends borrow 2,000 yen-10,000 yen for cab/dinner/drinks. Not more.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Friends borrow 2,000 yen-10,000 yen for cab/dinner/drinks. Not more.

I lent a friend a million yen last year. He paid it back, and just made the last payment last month.

I know there is the saying that friends should never borrow/lend money to friends, but I usually go with only lending as much money as I am able to lose while still remaining friends.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Poor "Haruka". Guess it didn't occur to her to tell "Cathy" to deduct the service charge from "Aran's" account. Her hard-earned money gone. Or, a loan? I hope she didn't take a loan out to help her newfound friend.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I used to share a house with a guy who worked for the USPS. He was taken in by the Nigerian general/surgeon e-mail. Good for him being tight-fisted. When he told me about being contacted by this guy claiming to be a general and a surgeon in the Nigerian army about a long lost relative leaving him millions, it was already a few weeks into their e-mails. I told him it was a scam. He was pretty annoyed with me and asked how could it be a scam? I told him he would have to put up some money. The general/surgeon hadn't done that yet. Apparently, the g/s was stringing him along with some song and dance about being very busy. Anyhoo. The time did come about transaction fees. My roomie kept up the correspondence in hopes of getting the money without paying a dime. At one point, they discussed meeting in Amsterdam.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There were optional classes in high school and college for "logic." Given that I have known some very nice, college educated friends who were duped by what I thought were obvious scams, I recommend the teaching and learning of principles of logic. Still, I would rather associate with nice people who occasionally get duped by bad people, than hang out with bad people who prey on good people.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ike-in-Tokyo-from-89Aug. 11  08:54 pm JST

What do you call it when a “friend”, a colleague, asks for a loan, fails to repay it and skips the country?

You hunt them down without mercy of course.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The story of a woman in Florida who was scammed out of $1,000,000. US dollars.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The women should be looking for Japanese guys not scammers abroad....I mean

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Here I was thinking I have to be stuck being an English teacher. Reporting these incidents in English is just an open money market for New ideas. Great job.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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