HYOGO (TR) – A male assistant language teacher from Cameroon is suspected of engaging in what is known as “international romance fraud,” reports NHK (June 14).
According to police, Tibor Scott Tarr, an English teacher, swindled a woman in her 60s who lives in Kanagawa Prefecture out of 3.68 million yen by posing as a foreign doctor on social media.
Upon his arrest on suspicion of fraud, Tarr denied the allegations. “I do not know [about the matter],” he told the Kobe-Nishi Police Station.
Tarr, who lives in Toyonaka City, teaches at an elementary school in Hyogo Prefecture. He is also believed to be a member of a ring that targets victims online for fraud by posing as potential dating partners.
Thus far, police have arrested 16 persons in the case, including another Cameroonian living in Kobe City. Police have found around 20 bank accounts connected to the ring that received transfers totaling about 125 million yen.
Tarr surfaced as a person of interest after police found a message from him on a chat app.
International romance fraud
Cases of international romance fraud began surfacing in the prefecture about four years ago. As of this month, police are aware of about 100 cases.
Of the total, 80 emerged last year, and most of the victims are men and women in their 40s and 60s. Members of the foreign rings contact the victims through matchmaking sites and social media while posing as military personnel or doctors of foreign nationalities, including the United States and the United Kingdom.
During online exchanges, the fraudsters suggest romantic relationships with the victims by sending such messages as “I want to with you in Japan” and “I love you.” Copies of photographs and identification cards are also sent as proof of the claims.
To defraud the victims, the conversations change. “I want you to receive my retirement benefits and assets,” one message might say. Then a condition is added. “There is a fee to send my luggage to move to Japan,” another message might read.
A representative of the Hyogo Prefectural Police says people need to pay attention to warning signs when communicating with potential partners online, including those who use words like “Middle East, military personnel and doctor. He also suggests being cautious with persons “wanting you to receive luggage.”
“If you are suspicious [of someone you don’t know] asking you for money, please consult the police or someone close to you,” the officer said.