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Tokyo cops make another arrest over dating sites with fake AKB48 listings

Yuji Fukuda
Yuji Fukuda was arrested after arriving at Haneda Airport on Wednesday

TOKYO (TR) – Tokyo Metropolitan Police have arrested another executive of a software company whose dating sites are alleged to have defrauded users with fake profiles of celebrities, including former AKB48 member Atsuko Maeda, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Feb. 15).

On Wednesday, police arrested Yuji Fukuda, the 46-year-old president of Free World, based in Shinjuku Ward, on charges of fraud after his arrival at Haneda Airport from South Korea.

Free World operated dating site management company Wing Net, whose employees are alleged to have accessed social-networking services like Facebook to create fabricated profiles of entertainers. Fans were then charged fees to engage in communication through the company’s 22 deai-kei matchmaking sites.

In April and May of 2012, a 40-year-old man from Saitama Prefecture was defrauded out of 1.37 million yen to exchange messages with the fake profile of Atsuko Maeda.

Over a two-year period ending in 2012, Win Net collected 11.6 billion yen in revenue, the majority of which, investigators believe, came through fraudulent behavior targeting more than 300,000 persons, according to TV Asahi (Feb. 15).

Police first busted the company in 2013. In September of last year, police arrested Ryosuke Tsuneizumi, the 38-year-old managing director of Free World, on fraud charges. The suspect had fled overseas, but he was apprehended upon his return to Japan. Police have arrested about 30 employees of the company since the start of the investigation, according to Fuji News Network (Feb. 15).

In November of last year, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Fukuda, who had also fled overseas. In January, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued an order for the return of Fukuda’s passport.