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Ex-hostess, 76, turns to fraud

TOKYO (TR) – When business at her “snack” hostess club dried up, she turned to fraud.

Such is the story of Kinuko Hondo, 76, whom police arrested last week for swindling another elderly woman in Shinjuku Ward earlier this year, reports TBS News (Aug. 2).

According to Tokyo Metropolitan Police, Hondo worked with accomplices in allegedly deceiving the woman, aged in her 80s, into providing her bank account details and personal identification number in order to register her for an online banking service without her permission.

Through that online bank, Hondo received 4.5 million yen via a bank transfer into her account. She also accepted the victim’s bank book and bank cards in a delivery to her residence.

An additional 21 million yen is believed to have been later withdrawn using those items, police said.

“A person I am not acquainted with instructed me,” Hondo told police in denying the allegations.

Kinuko Hondo (Twitter)

“Special fraud”

Hondo is believed to have been a member of a so-called “special fraud” ring, which targets the elderly in finance-related scams.

Regarding a motive for Hondo, who operated a hostess club in the capital for more than 30 years, that is a topic of speculation.

“Fraud? She committed fraud? I wonder if she really could have. She doesn’t even have a smartphone,” one acquaintance, who has known the suspect for at least 20 years, told the network.

A person who currently runs a hostess business in the same building as where Hondo had her club concurs, telling the network that Hondo doesn’t seem like the type: “She’s a kind person.”

Hondo shuttered her business after the number of customers decreased.

“I think she had money problems,” a female acquaintance said. “She doesn’t collect a pension. All she has is the snack, and it’s mostly closed. If a customer calls, she’ll open up. But that’s it.”

Raided by police

Hondo lives in Nagano City, Nagano Prefecture. In June, police raided her apartment. However, she had already fled by the time the officers arrived.

After moving from place to place in the Kanto and Kansai areas, Hondo surrendered last month after relatives urged her to do so.

“At the beginning of the year, I started regularly receiving calls from persons I do not know,” Hondo was quoted. “A package containing a bank card and bank book arrived in April, and a man instructed me to withdraw cash.”

Hondo also told police that she closed the snack around the start of this year.