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Kumamoto fraud suspect not forthcoming with police

Setsuko Yamabe
Setsuko Yamabe is suspected in the swindling of dozens of investors out of 700 million yen (TV Asahi)

KUMAMOTO (TR) – It has been one week since Setsuko Yamabe arrived back in Kumamoto Prefecture from Thailand to face questioning over an elaborate investment fraud. The suspect is believed to have swindled dozens of persons out of hundreds of millions yen.

Over that time, news outlets, including TBS News (Apr. 26), have queried investigative sources about the 62-year-old suspect — and the results are revealing. Or maybe not.

When asked by police to provide her occupation, she said, “I am in the mistress industry. I have used 8 million yen for plastic surgery.” According to the report, such outlays were seemingly used to garner much greater in return.

In her native Kumamoto Prefecture, Yamabe once managed a “snack” hostess club. On one occasion, she and her customers discussed crimes. She subsequently started her own investment operations, soliciting funds via word of mouth and from a pool of lovers. But things got out of hand.

“I began collecting money about seven years ago,” she said. “At the beginning, I did not intend to be involved in investing or lending, and I did not think that things would spread so wide.”

In January, Kumamoto Prefectural Police obtained an arrest warrant for Yamabe. 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.

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.

On March 30, Thai police arrested Yamabe at a gasoline station in the northeastern province of Ubon Ratchathani for immigration violations. She was extradited from Bangkok on April 18. “I would like to tell the complete truth,” she told reporters before her departure. That has not yet happened.

Regarding the 700 million yen, Yamabe told Kumamoto police that the claim is a lie. When asked to explain, she apologized and added that she cannot explain in detail.