Three accused of earthquake recovery investment scam

SAITAMA, Japan - Three individual investors in Saitama Prefecture submitted a complaint to the police against a man and two women who they claim defrauded them of a total of 85 million yen (S$1.3 million) by promising high dividends regarding reconstruction work in areas hit by last year's Great East Japan Earthquake.

According to the complaint asserting suspicion of fraud and violation of the Investment Deposit and Interest Rate Law, a man from Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, claiming to be the leader of the "Gunma kojin-yushi shienkai" (Gunma personal finance support society), began collecting funds in units of 500,000 yen from March last year.

The man, in his 30s, along with the two women, reportedly claimed to have built 10,000 temporary housing units in the disaster-hit area and said subsidies from the central government made their project a good investment.

He also allegedly said, "You'll receive a monthly dividend of 20 per cent."

The three acquired investors by word of mouth through acquaintances interested in investing.

A growing number of investors have been coming forward to consult a lawyer about not receiving the promised dividends.

Some investors who sought dividends from the man were reportedly turned down, with the man claiming his associates had embezzled the money.

According to sources including a lawyer who submitted the complaint, the man has collected about 1 billion yen, and possibly more, from 200 people across the nation and has fallen behind on dividend payments.

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