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Side job fraud is said to have cost ¥1.9 billion to 8,600 victims

Tokyo police have arrested 26 people in a sideline fraud case that allegedly took a total of ¥1.91 billion or more from about 8,600 victims across Japan.

The Metropolitan Police Department also searched a total of 11 locations in Tokyo and four other prefectures, including a building that housed a fraud ring to which the suspects, including Kazuki Suzuki, 48, belonged.

The 26 were arrested for allegedly defrauding a woman in her 40s out of a total of ¥407,000 in Tokyo between July and September 2023 in the name of fees related to her use of a side-job website operated by the fraud group.

Police have not announced whether they have admitted to the charges.

On the now-defunct side-job website, the fraud group advertised that compensation would be paid for listening to a life advice seeker, and allowed those who registered to exchange messages with group members posing as advice seekers, police sources said.

Group members then offered to pay such people compensation, asked them to set up a private line to send bank accounts and other personal information, and demanded that they pay several hundred thousand yen in compensation for the private line.

The group ran several side-job websites, recruited members through social media and paid them an average of about ¥500,000 as monthly wages.

Many of those who registered with the websites are believed to have been women in their 20s and 30s, as the websites stated that the advice seekers were exclusively men.

The websites also had fake messages claiming to have earned several hundred thousand yen after registering with the websites.

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