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Sapporo mom-son duo hit with fresh charges over alleged auction site point fraud

A massive number of T-Point cards and other items are seen at Iwatsuki Police Station in the city of Saitama, Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo, on Oct. 24, 2019. (Mainichi/Ayako Hiramoto)

SAITAMA -- A man and his mother, under arrest on suspicion of abusing the Yahoo! Japan portal site's campaign to illicitly obtain "T-Points" for a customer reward program, are suspected of also abusing Yahoo! Auctions' campaign to gain the same points through fictitious successful bids, those linked to the investigation said.

The pair -- Koki Fujino, 28, and his 56-year-old mother Hiromi from the northern Japan city of Sapporo -- has been hit with new arrest warrants accusing them of fraud by using computers.

Investigators have found some 85 million yen in the pair's bank accounts and locations linked to them, as well as about 1,500 T-Cards, which are used in the T-Point program. Saitama Prefectural Police suspect that the pair abused multiple campaigns launched by Yahoo Japan Corp. to illicitly obtain a total of some 93 million yen worth of T-Points. The T-Point program is run by Culture Convenience Club Co.

In April 2019, the two obtained numerous IDs under false names and addresses and used them to enter in a draw to win the right to participate in a Yahoo! Auctions campaign, according to the investigative sources. In the campaign, successful bidders in Yahoo! Auctions, commonly known as "Yahuoku!" for short, can gain T-Points equivalent to certain percentages of the final auction prices.

After they won the right to participate in the campaign with some of those IDs, they used them to make successful bids for goods they themselves put up on the Yahoo! Auctions site through their separate IDs, allegedly gaining some 161,000 yen worth of T-Points in June.

Yahoo Japan Corp. held the campaign, in which those allowed to participate through draws were granted T-Points equivalent to 1 to 100% of the final auction prices if they made successful bids on Sundays between April 2018 and June this year.

Koki Fujino used a computer program that automatically inputs false names and addresses to obtain a massive number of IDs, according to the sources. Moreover, he is suspected of using a separate computer program he created to automatically enter in a draw for the campaign by using approximately 72,000 IDs.

The prefectural police suspect that the pair may have repeated the practice of putting up fictitious goods on the Yahoo! Auctions site and making "successful" bids to illicitly gain T-Points.

The Fujinos had earlier been arrested on Oct. 24 on suspicion of computer fraud by abusing the Yahoo! Japan portal site's campaign to swindle about 140,000 yen worth of T-Points. They allegedly signed up for the campaign -- in which participants can gain 1,515 yen worth of T-Points if they registered their T-Card ID numbers -- through 95 IDs that were apparently created automatically.

(Japanese original by Yuki Nakagawa, Saitama Bureau)

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