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7 arrested over alleged crane game rigging fraud in Osaka

Investigators from Osaka Prefectural Police confiscate claw machines from an arcade in Osaka's Chuo Ward on Dec. 23, 2017. (Mainichi)

OSAKA -- A new arrest has been made in the case of an arcade operating company suspected of fraud for rigging their claw machines so it was impossible to win, Osaka Prefectural Police announced on Dec. 25.

    Previously, five employees of the company and the president, had been arrested on charges of fraud for setting up the machines so that it was impossible for customers to win, even pushing them to continue to dump their cash into the machines. The new arrest on the same charge is of 30-year-old Akinori Tsukuda, of Osaka's Chuo Ward, an assistant to the president who instructed the arcade employees in the alleged scam. Tsukuda has said he had other workers "lure in tourists," and police believe that they mainly went after travelers who were unlikely to make trouble later.

    Tsukuda was arrested specifically for colluding with operator president Takeshi Odaira, 33, in early December to fix crane games at two locations in Osaka so that it was impossible for customers to reach the prizes, and then defrauding four women of an estimated 470,000 yen in total by forcing them to play on the rigged machines. He has reportedly admitted to the charges.

    According to the prefectural police's public safety department, Tsukuda appears to have created an employee manual for the scam at the direction of Odaira. In it, staff members were instructed to ask a customer where they were from, offer them a coupon for the first three tries for free and then carry out the scam using the methods written. Once the customer had used their free tries, the staff was to push them to try again at 500 yen intervals. As the player continued to fail, the employees were then instructed to add more prizes and say things like "We'll give you all of this (if you win)," while padding the charge for each play up to 10,000 yen.

    Osaka Prefectural Police sent Odaira, Tsukuda and five others to prosecutors on Dec. 25.

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