TOKYO (TR) – Tokyo Metropolitan Police last week announced the crackdown on a company that allegedly swindled customers by using social-networking services to create fake profiles of celebrities, including Atsuko Maeda, an ex-member of idol group AKB48, reports the Sankei Shimbun (June 13).
Officers took the executive officer of site management company Wing Net, 34-year-old Takahiro Yamanaka, and eight other employees into custody on fraud charges. An arrest warrant has also been issued for the 40-year-old president of the firm.
Wing Net, which is located in Shinjuku Ward, allegedly accessed SNS platforms like Facebook and LINE to create fabricated profiles of entertainers. Fans were then charged fees to engage in communication through the company’s 22 deai-kei “encounter” matchmaking sites.
In April and May of last year, a 40-year-old man from Saitama Prefecture was defrauded out of 1.37 million yen to exchange 36 messages with the fake profile of Maeda. The site encouraged the victim by saying that the idol is “worried.” Fake profiles for members of boy bands Exile and Arashi were also created by the service.
Wing Net has 60,000 male and 310,000 female users on its books. Between February of 2010 and June of last year, the company collected 11.6 billion yen in revenue, the majority of which, investigators believe, came through fraudulent behavior.