TOKYO (TR) – In what is being viewed as evidence of a change in tactics by organized crime groups, the number of arrests of gang members on charges of fraud surpassed that for theft for the first time last year, the National Police Agency announced on Thursday, reports the Mainichi Shimbun (March 12).
According to the NPA, 10.4 percent of the 22,495 arrests of gang members nationwide in 2014 were on charges of fraud. That percentage slightly exceeded the figure for theft (10.2 percent) for the first time since record-keeping began in 1946.
The number-one charge was related to violations of the Narcotics Control Law regarding use and possession of stimulant drugs (26.5 percent).
Of particular interest to the NPA is the increased participation by organized crime in what is referred to as “special fraud,” in which victims are conned in fake investment schemes. Arrests for special fraud totaled 689, an increase of 38 percent over 2013.
“With severe crackdowns on crime ongoing, there is a possibility that a shift is under way toward special fraud as a source of funds,” a representative of the NPA said.
The NPA also said that last year the total number of organized crime members decreased by 5,100 to 53,500, which represents the fifth consecutive year-on-year decline. The membership total is the lowest since the enactment of the Anti-Organized Crime Law in 1991.