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Japan’s ‘Bridge Loan Queen’ appears in court month after suicide attempt

Setsuko Yamabe
Setsuko Yamabe was arrested in Thailand on March 30 for immigration violations

KUMAMOTO (TR) – For Japan’s infamous “Bridge Loan Queen,” who is suspected of swindling dozens of persons out of hundreds of millions yen in an investment scam, the girlish clothing is back in the closet.

At the opening of her trial at the Kumamoto District Court on Tuesday, Setsuko Yamabe, one month removed from a suicide attempt, appeared in conservative clothing in pleading guilty to the allegations against her, reports TV Asahi (July 4).

Yamabe, 62, admitted to swindling a Tokyo man out of 20 million yen by falsely promising to pay dividends on investments. All told, she and several accomplices are suspected of defrauding more than 70 persons in fraudulently obtaining at least 700 million yen over the past few years.

Thus far, Kumamoto Prefectural Police have also accused Yamabe of swindling a woman Aomori City, Aomori Prefecture out of 15 million yen and a male company officer in Nagoya out of 43 million.

On March 30, Thai police arrested Yamabe at a gasoline station in the northeastern province of Ubon Ratchathani for immigration violations. In announcing her arrest on April 5 in Bangkok, Thai police referred to her as “The Bridge Loan Queen.” She was extradited from Bangkok on April 18.

In carrying out the ruse, she told the victims that she was involved in “bridge loans,” which are often used for short-term financing by large companies. She had claimed to pay the supposed investors interest of 25 percent for investments in which the principal was 100-percent guaranteed.

Suicide attempt

Upon her apprehension in Thailand, Japan’s news media focused on her heavy makeup and revealing clothing, including a skimpy blouse and low-cut shorts. Subsequent reports revealed that she spent lavishly on a boyfriend in Thailand, where she visited frequently.

Also on Tuesday, investigative sources with the Kumamoto police revealed that Yamabe attempted suicide while in a detention at the Kumamoto Higashi Police Station on June 8. After a guard found her, she was rushed to a hospital in a state not considered life-threatening, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun (July 4).