BANGKOK — Fifteen Japanese men allegedly involved in defrauding Japanese victims out of ¥89 million have been arrested in the outskirts of Pattaya, Thailand, on suspicion of working in the country illegally.
Thai police searched the house in the resort town where they were staying after their arrests on Friday. The group is suspected of being engaged in bank transfer fraud targeting people in Japan.
Japanese police will conduct investigations to substantiate the allegations.
The 15 suspects, who are aged between 22 and 54, are from Fukuoka Prefecture and elsewhere, according to Thai police and other sources. Since entering Thailand on tourist visas, the men had been living together for two to three months at the rental property.
They are suspected of engaging in work in Thailand without working visas.
The owner of the house informed the police after becoming suspicious about the number of Japanese people staying at the property.
During the search of the house, Thai police seized 52 internet protocol phones, 19 computers and fraud manuals written in Japanese, among other materials.
Analysis of the evidence indicated that the suspects may have cheated at least 500 people out of a total of ¥89 million, using the house as their base for a criminal operation in Thailand.
Their methods are alleged to have included pretending to be employees of major company’s in charge of collecting debts and emailing fraudulent payment notices.
The men have denied involvement in the fraud, telling police that they had gone to the house after someone spoke to them in Pattaya.
The screens of the seized computers included such notes as, “Sales in March: ¥130 million. Target: ¥170 million.” There were also notices on the walls of the house that included such slogans as, “We’ll make money, no matter what” and “Be responsible,” according to the police.