A joint investigation between Tokyo and Hyogo police into an alleged fraud involving a bitcoin worth ¥190 million has led to the arrests of 12 individuals in total.
First reported by the Japan Times last week, the alleged scam involved a Tokyo-based marketing firm executive – in his 40s – falling prey to a group of conmen who offered ¥200 million in cash for the equivalent of ¥190 million in bitcoin. The deal took place at a Tokyo hotel on July 25, 2017, through an agent representing the executive.
According to the report, the accused men presented a suitcase containing ¥200 million, a majority in fake cash, fooling the agent in the process. Falling for the con, the bitcoin seller transferred his cryptocurrency to a wallet account of an exchange operator in Yokohama. The men falsely claimed they hadn’t received the coins, according to the investigation.
Two days later, an accomplice of the accused men approached the exchange to convert the bitcoins into ¥174.2 million in cash, excluding the commission. Seven men who are said to have attended the meeting at the hotel, all in their 20s, were arrested by police last week. According to the Tokyo Reporter, five more suspects involved in the alleged con were also arrested including 24-year-old Kenta Higashi, thought to be the mastermind of the operation.
During the course of the investigation, the victim revealed he had accepted the offer to avoid paying commission fees while swapping crypto-to-fiat at an exchange.
After pioneering legislation that now recognizes bitcoin as a legal method of payment in the country, Japan is firmly among the world’s largest trading markets for cryptocurrencies. Everyday cons and conmen are to be expected and nothing out of the ordinary.
Recent figures by the Financial Services Agency, the country’s financial regulator, reveals over 3.5 million active cryptocurrency adopters in the country while the most traded cryptocurrencies in order are Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin.
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