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Japan’s ‘Bridge Loan Queen’ handed 7-year prison term over investment scam

Setsuko Yamabe
Setsuko Yamabe (Twitter)

KUMAMOTO (TR) – A court here last week handed a seven-year prison sentence to a 63-year-old woman — known in Thailand, where she was apprehended, as Japan’s “Bridge Loan Queen” — over the swindling of more than 10 people out of about 177 million yen in fraudulent investments, reports the Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 19).

In handing down the ruling at the Kumamoto District Court on April 19, presiding judge Yoshihisa Mizokuni described the swindled orchestrated by Setsuko Yamabe, a resident of the town of Mashiki, as one committed out of greed. “You used the money you collected to live a life of luxury, a repeated crime driven by greed,” the judge said.

According to the ruling, Yamabe swindled 12 persons, including a man in Nagoya, out of 177 million yen by falsely promising to pay dividends on investments in 2014 and 2015. The prosecution had sought a 10-year prison term.

All told, she and several accomplices are suspected of defrauding more than 70 persons in fraudulently obtaining at least 700 million yen over a multi-year period. After carrying out the scam, Yamabe fled to Thailand.

On March 30, 2017, 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.