Tokyo Metropolitan Police have arrested three male Cameroonian nationals who posed as American servicemen online to swindle Japanese women seeking marriage, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Oct. 2).
According to police, the suspects, including a 32-year-old resident of Katsushika Ward, are believed to have swindled about 80 victims out of a total of 187 million yen since April, 2016.
Beginning at the end of March of last year, the trio posed as a American serviceman named “Alex” who was serving in Syria on a social-networking service.
In a text message with one of victims, a woman in her 50s and living in Tokyo, one of the suspects suggested marriage. “As a reward for compensation for being dispatched to Syria, I received 8 diamonds from the military,” one of the messages said.
Another message indicated that a payment would be necessary to cover customs fees in sending the jewels to Japan. The suspects began collecting money from the victims in May.
Thus far, police have only accused the suspects of using ATM machines in the capital to withdraw of 23.2 million yen in cash from an account of that one women between May and September of last year.
The matter emerged when the woman became suspicious and contacted police. All of the suspects deny the allegations, telling police that they “did not know” that the proceeds were the result of a crime. “An acquaintance lent me [access] to the account to withdraw money,” one of the suspects was quoted.
“Love and respect”
In a text message posted by Fuji News Network, one of the suspects wrote to a victim, “Don’t be shy my dear. I will always love you and respect you all my live [sic]. You are so special and you deserve to be treated with much love and respect. You are a wonderful woman.”
She responded, “I want to know about where you live.”
“International Romance Fraud”
Police believe the suspects are part of ring that carries out what is known as “International Romance Fraud.”
Terue Shinkawa, the director of Stop! International Romance Fraud, advises women to inspect identification cards carefully since many are forged. “With peace of mind, friendships can form and feelings of love sprout,” she said.