TOKYO (TR) – Earlier this month, Tokyo Metropolitan Police arrested 14 suspected members of a most unique fraud ring. As Fuji News Network (Feb. 7) tells it, the ring was operated from several camper vans — a move that allowed for flexibility in operations.
In carrying out one ruse, one member of the ring posed as the son of an elderly man in Yokohama on the telephone, saying that he needed “money to cover the non-payment” of taxes derived from virtual currency transactions. The ring then allegedly attempted to defraud the man out of 1.2 million yen.
At around noon on February 1, police found Yuki Sumi, 31, Rentaro Hayashizaki, 22, and another member of the ring inside a camper van parked at a highway rest area in Higashi Matsuyama City, Saitama Prefecture. Thereafter, the other 11 members — including Takuma Tsumagari, 23 — were apprehended at different rest areas in the prefecture.
An investigator tells the network that utilizing camper vans as a headquarters is easier than renting a residence, which requires the submission of paperwork and the obtaining of a guarantor. “As well, if the ring rents an apartment temporarily, their activities could be revealed to other tenants or management,” the investigator says. “It seems this ring took those things into consideration.”
The ring rented four vans in Tokyo. The members then traveled to rest areas and another places along highways in the Kanto and Tohoku areas to make telephone calls to swindle victims, police said previously.
The aforementioned officer says that the use of a camper van can also be a way to maintain a low profile. “Stopping a camper van at a rest area for a long time is not considered unusual,” the source says.
The arrest of Tsumagari is at least his second in two years. In 2017, Kanagawa Prefectural Police arrested him over the killing of Mizuki Takahashi, whose corpse was found floating off the shore of the Tama River in Tama Ward, Kawasaki City on December 2, 2016.
Two months after his arrest, Tsumagari was not prosecuted in the case.