Law enforcement authorities from Tokyo and Miyagi Prefecture have shut down a major fraud ring involving online-dating sites designed to generate massive profits out of membership fees, reports Shukan Asahi Geino (Mar. 11).
On January 16, Noriyuki Hoshi, the leader of the operation, and ten others were taken into custody by police for defrauding members of deai-kei (encounter) matchmaking sites by hiring male actors to take on online personas of ladies seeking dates.
A reporter responsible for covering social media explains to the weekly that the victims were registered with such social networking sites as Mixi and Mobagetown. Between July 2005 and the day of the crackdown, the nationwide scam had swindled 1.4 million individuals out of a total of 2 billion yen.
This group had its headquarters in Tokyo’s notorious red-light district of Kabukicho, located in Shinjuku Ward. Its staff consisted of approximately 20 full-timers, including Hoshi, who was regarded as “the Chair,” and about 80 part-timers.
The article says that recruitment of victims was highly cunning. “Members of this organization had different roles assigned to them,” the same reporter explains. “A solicitation division was responsible for stealing IDs and passwords and illegally accessing Mixi and equivalent sites. While disguised as a member of such sites, they would then send mails asking if the recipients wished to go on a date. After receiving a reply, they would then offer an invite to chat.”
The stage would then shift to the ‘Operation Division,’ where fictitious women, known as kyara, would continue to engage in email exchanges with the deceived men. “After telling these men that there is a need to change from the chat sites due to ‘an overwhelming influx of spam mails,’ they would then be directed virtual sites,” the reporter says.
When these men register with the virtual site, they are simultaneously and unknowingly signed up for pay sites that this organization was running. The organization had a customer service department to deal with anticipated claims or complaints.
“The organization utilized 200 personal computers and three shifts of actors to maintain this 24-hour operation,” an individual associated with the investigation tells the tabloid. “Each member’s duty was carefully and laid out in specially designed manuals.”
Actors acted out a total of 170,000 female roles, which included that of elegant college girls and affluent ladies who own imported cars. “These types of fabrications are designed to make sure that the members do not get bored,” says the same individual. “They were also taught how to carry out last-minute cancellations of proposed dates in order to make sure that these deceived men had no access to actual meetings.”
Even though this scam has been exposed, there are still men who believe that they are talking to real ladies.
“It is close to impossible to meet your desired date,” says an individual knowledgeable of networking organizations and organized crime. “The reason for this is the basis of the operation itself. Free online-dating sites usually adopt point systems. Male members have to purchase points. By spending them, the company running the site makes a profit. To continue emailing the girl, you have to continue purchasing points. You see, if they met, there is no profit.” (K.N.)
Source: “Deai-kei sagi guruupu no saishin koumyou teguchi ‘suppokashi manyuaru’ made sakusei shite ita!” Shukan Asahi Geino (Mar. 11, page 44)