The men allegedly misrepresented themselves as U.S. military members to cheat victims out of money.

Consumers beware – everyone wants your money, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it. Between insurance scammers throwing themselves in front of stopped cars and strange men in ill-fitting suits pretending to be relatives in need of money, it pays to be cautious these days, because anyone could be out to swindle your hard-earned cash.

Now it appears that Japanese people looking for love or friendship may need to be extra careful of those who might be interested in them, especially on the Internet. Recently, three people (men and women) from across Japan, were cheated out of 8.8 million yen (a little more than US$80,000) in what is being called “International Romance Fraud”.

In April and May last year, the victims were fooled by men portraying themselves as U.S. military members or officials from the United Nations on social media. The men used these accounts to establish an intimate relationship with the victims, and then encouraged them to send them money with messages such as: “I want to see you”, and “I need money to hire a private jet to get to Japan” or “I need money to quit the military.”

The targeted individuals – a 59-year-old woman from Fukuoka, a 58-year-old woman from Sapporo, and a 46 year-old man from Tokyo – were conned into sending as much as 6.6 million yen, only to find that the con artists were never interested in seeing them at all.

The fraud appears to have been masterminded by a group of African nationals based out of the Kanto area. Police found evidence of the fraudulent organization while searching the office of an unnamed automobile company in Saitama, north of Tokyo, which was found to be the base of the organization. Four men from Nigeria and Cameroon, two of whom were in their twenties and were living in Chiba and Kanagawa Prefectures, were arrested in connection to the crimes on January 22. The group appeared to receive part of the money in a joint bank account owned by two of the suspects, which might have led to their discovery.

“Romance fraud” is actually a common type of fraud that happens to men and women all over the world, so everyone should be careful about sending money to others! If you receive a message that you’re not sure about, just think what Go, our resident scam expert, would do. He’s foiled scamming porn sites, phishing attempts, and even a LINE hacker, so you can’t go wrong with his help.

Source: Sankei News, Yomiuri Shimbun
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