Tokyo Police Arrest Japanese Fraud Suspects Extradited from Cambodia

The Yomiuri Shimbun / Shinsuke Yasuda
A chartered plane carrying Japanese fraud suspects is seen in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.

The Metropolitan Police Department arrested 19 Japanese men extradited from Cambodia on Tuesday in connection with a suspected fraud group that had been based in the Southeast Asian country.

The suspects were detained by Cambodian police in January following a tip-off about a group conducting fraud in the country that was sent anonymously to the Japanese Embassy in Cambodia.

Authorities believe the tip-off came from a member of the group who was being held against his will.

The MPD believes an organized crime syndicate is behind the operation.

According to an MPD statement, the suspected leader of the Cambodian fraud group, Hiroki Okamoto, 38, is among the 19 suspects, whose ages range from 25-55.

Okamoto had an outstanding arrest warrant in connection with another fraud case.

The group is suspected of sending a text message to a 62-year-old woman in Nerima Ward, Tokyo, on Jan. 24, pretending to be from NTT Docomo.

The woman called a number in response to the message and the person at the end of the line allegedly told her that she had missed a payment for online services. The fraud group allegedly made her purchase about ¥250,000 in digital money to cover the late payment, and acquired from her the login details needed to use the digital money.

According to investigative sources, the Japanese Embassy in Cambodia received an anonymous tip-off via email in mid-January from someone claiming to have been abducted by the fraud group. The sender is believed to be a member of the group.

The MPD is looking into the possibility of involvement by an organized crime syndicate. It believes the threat of violence may have been used to intimidate members of the group.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Police escort fraud suspects in Ota Ward, Tokyo, on Tuesday.

On Jan. 24, the Cambodian police raided a resort hotel in Sihanoukville Province in the southern part of the country following the tip-off, and detained the 19 men.

The suspects, who entered Cambodia on tourist visas from 2021 onwards, were detained on suspicion of staying in the country illegally.

The MPD is investigating why the fraud suspects were in Cambodia. It suspects the group was based overseas to evade detection from Japanese authorities.

On Tuesday afternoon, the suspects were transported from a police facility in Phnom Penh to an airport in the city, where they were handed over to MPD investigators who had arrived in Cambodia.

The 19 men were transported to Japan on a chartered plane, and the arrest warrants were executed on board during the flight.

A chartered plane was used for safety reasons, due to the large number of suspects and the lack of direct flights between Japan and Cambodia.

The men were transported to a Tokyo police station after arriving at Haneda Airport on Tuesday evening.