TOKYO -- Three Cameroonian nationals have been served fresh arrest warrants on suspicion of accepting funds remitted to a bank account while knowing they were obtained through "romance fraud" activities, police said on Oct. 2.
The Metropolitan Police Department's Organized Crime Control Section served the warrants to the trio, including a 32-year-old resident of Tokyo's Katsushika Ward who gave his name as Numeor Fritz Gerard, on suspicion of accepting criminal proceeds in violation of the Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds.
The transferred money appears to have been obtained by "international romance fraud," in which the suspects posed as an American soldier on the internet, and used their victims' romantic feelings toward the non-existent soldier to extract money from them. It was reported that the three suspects' bank accounts had been wired a total of about 187 million yen from 80 people.
The suspects are specifically alleged to have accepted 23.2 million yen in funds they knew were obtained fraudulently between May and September 2018, from a female worker in her 50s in Tokyo.
According to the Organized Crime Control Section, the three men argued that they had lent the account to an acquaintance for the money transfer, and withdrawn the sums on request, all without knowing the money had been taken fraudulently.
The woman is reported to have gotten to know a man claiming to be an American solider dispatched to Syria, via an internet dating site in March 2018. She received messages from the "army man" telling her that he had been given diamonds by the military, and wanted to send them to her. He is also said to have written that he wanted to marry her.
After that, she was reportedly contacted by an individual claiming to be a British delivery worker. They are said to have sent her a message asking for payment of fees relating to customs and insurance for the diamonds' delivery, at which point the woman paid a total of 23.2 million yen via bank transfer.
(Japanese original by Yuki Yamamoto, City News Department)