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American eikaiwa teacher among 4 nabbed for ‘international marriage fraud’

SHIZUOKA (TR) – Shizuoka Prefectural Police have arrested four persons, including an American English teacher, for allegedly carrying out a ruse known as “international romance fraud,” reports NHK (Aug. 4).

According to the Hamamatsu-Higashi Police Station, two of the suspects are teacher Mike Taro Otani, 42, who works at an eikaiwa (English school), and Miharu Hirose, 38, a naturalized Japanese formerly a national of New Zealand, both of whom live in Tokyo.

The pair, along with two male Nigerians living in Saitama Prefecture, including Elvis Sochima, 22, are alleged to have worked together to pose as American service personnel on Facebook in swindling male and female Japanese nationals seeking relationships.

The suspects are believed to have defrauded an unspecified number of victims out of a total of 100 million yen after requesting that they pay various expenses, including for travel.

Elvis Sochima (Twitter)

Police have specifically accused Hirose and Otani of fraudulently opening bank accounts to receive the swindled funds from the victims. Police suspect the pair received about 10 million yen from five male and female victims.

Meanwhile, police have accused the Nigerian suspects of swindling an unspecified number of persons out of 2 million yen.

Police did not reveal whether the suspects admit to the allegations.