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Tokyo: Woman, 3 youths accused of robbing convicted swindler

TOKYO (TR) – Tokyo Metropolitan Police have arrested a 20-year-old woman and three youths over the alleged robbery of an elderly man who was convicted of operating a pyramid scheme more than 20 years ago, reports the Nikkei Shimbun (Mar. 16).

At around 2:00 a.m. on March 15, Haruka Sueishi, of no known occupation, and three male youths, aged 18 and 19, worked together to intrude into the residence of Ichiro Yamamoto, 78, in the Ueno area of Taito Ward and tied up his arms and legs with tape. They then fled the scene after taking a bag containing about 120,000 yen in cash.

The suspects fled Ueno in a vehicle. Through an examination of security camera, police identified the vehicle. The four suspects were apprehended in Yamaguchi Prefecture at around noon on March 15.

Haruka Sueishi
Haruka Sueishi (Twitter)

Keizai Kakumei Club

More than two decades ago, Yamamoto was the chairman of Keizai Kakumei Club, a membership-based pyramid scheme that targeted the elderly in falsely promising high returns on investments. In 1997, he was accused of swindling investors out of 178 million yen.

Over the course of the investigation, police learned that KKC accumulated more than 35 billion yen from around 12,000 members. Police deemed a large portion of the amount as unrecoverable.

“I worked so hard I had no holidays,” Yamamoto said during his trial in 1997 in denying the allegations, according to the Japan Times (July 16, 1997).

In 2000, the Tokyo District Court handed Yamamoto an 8-year prison term. He was released from prison seven years later.

In carrying out the crime in Ueno, the three youths are believed to have robbed Yamamoto while Sueishi drove the getaway car. While inside the residence, which also services as an office, one of the suspects threatened Yamamoto, reportedly saying, “We know you have 35 billion yen. I’ll kill [you].”