“She didn’t look 50. Since she didn’t have any prominent wrinkles, she didn’t look a day over 40.”
On June 15, Saitama Prefectural Police announced the arrest of Hiroko Morita, 51, for allegedly defrauding the owner of a company out of three million yen. In carrying out the fraud, she coaxed the victim into becoming a member of a fictitious program at department store chain Isetan Mitsukoshi.
As weekly tabloid Shukan Jitsuwa (July 9) reports, Morita, who had previously been apprehended for participating in the suicide of her husband, was a master of deception.
The membership ruse involved telling victims that for every one million yen they deposited into the program they would receive a gift certificate valued at 40,000 yen every six months. As a means of convincing the victims of the validity of the offer, she presented business cards with the name of her husband, who was an employee at Isetan Mitsukoshi.
She carried out the fraud between 2012 and 2014. All told, she is believed to have netted a total of 500 million yen from her victims.
“She was a smooth talker, and told victims that this was a ‘restricted offer for special people,'” an investigator tells the magazine. “Among her victims” — of which there appear to be dozens — “some ponied up as much as 50 million yen.”
The ruse was revealed after a victim inquired with Isetan Mitsukoshi about the late delivery of the gift certificates. After Isetan Mitsukoshi ordered Morita to halt her operation, the matter became an issue for the courts. An out-out-of-court settlement was reached, but the chain later pursued a criminal case.
“Initially, she was buying up gift certificates with the collected money (to provide to the victims) to cover up the scam,” says an investigator. “But most of the money is now gone, having been spent on plastic surgery procedures and brand-name goods.”
Her neighbor, who is quoted in the introduction to this article, was certainly impressed with the results of her facial work. As to the brand goods, she kept a large quantity in her apartment, for the which the management fee was in arrears.
Morita has denied the fraud charges, telling police that she had planned to reinstate the money to the members.
But fraud is not the only matter of concern regarding Morita. On April 20, the body of her 55-year-old husband and used charcoal briquettes were found inside his car, which was parked in Tokorozawa City.
“It was suicide by carbon-monoxide poisoning,” a reporter at the local news desk of a nationwide paper tells the tabloid. “She received an insurance payout of 30.8 million yen.”
On May 26, Saitama police arrested Morita for assisting in the deed, accusing her of purchasing the briquettes. At the time, she was estranged from her husband.
“In the end, she was acquitted,” says the reporter. “But prior to that, she was frequently seen out izakaya restaurants with a young fellow. This is just another element of suspicion in a dark case.” (K.N.)
Source: “Mitsukoshi Isetan sagi jiken sogaku 5 oku-en wo damashi totta akujo no esute kurui,” Shukan Jitsuwa (July 9, page 48)