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Thai authorities arrest Japanese woman wanted in ¥700 million pyramid scheme

Police in Thailand last month arrested Setsuko Yamabe, 62, who is wanted in Japan over an investment scam
Police in Thailand last month arrested Setsuko Yamabe (center) who is wanted in Japan over an investment scam (TV Asahi)

BANGKOK  (TR) – Thai authorities have arrested a Japanese woman wanted by Kumamoto police in the alleged swindle of dozens of victims of at least 700 million yen through an investment scam, reports Nippon News Network (Apr. 5).

Kumamoto Prefectural Police issued an arrest warrant for Setsuko Yamabe, 62, in January on suspicion of violating the Investment Law for fraudulently obtaining 68 million yen from two men, including one from Aichi Prefecture, in 2014 and 2015.

Yamabe was arrested in the northeastern province of Ubon Ratchathani on March 30 this year for immigration violations. According to the Associated Press (Apr. 5), Yamabe had traveled into and out of Thailand at least 15 times.

Yamabe allegedly told the victims that she “is involved in bridge financing for major corporations, so you will enjoy high interest if you invest.” Bridge financing, or bridge loans, are short-term loans that typically have high interest rates. Businesses use them to cover expenses while awaiting more permanent financing.

An immigration official is quoted by the AP as saying that Yamabe’s supposed investors were to tasked with finding subsequent investors in what was essentially a pyramid scheme.

Yamabe is suspected of using such a scam to fraudulently obtain at least 700 million yen from over 50 victims, at least one of whom has committed suicide.

Thai authorities believe Yamabe used some of the fraudulently obtained money to assist a boyfriend, aged in his 30s, with his residence.

Yamabe is expected to be taken back to Japan by police, according to an official from the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok.