Gang member arrested in Tamagotch extortion

OSAKA — A Yamaguchi-gumi gangster from Settsu, Osaka Prefecture, was arrested Feb. 25 on suspicion of extorting 5 million yen from a trader who failed to make good on a promise to ship him 200 of the best-selling Tamagotch virtual pets, they said.

Tamagotch is Bandai’s electronic key-ring game in which the goal is to nurture a virtual chick into an adult chicken on a liquid-crystal screen. About 750,000 units of the game were sold in the two months after it hit the market last November.

Mitsugu Ogawa, 36, a member of the Hokusetsu Sogyo underworld organization, affiliated with Yamaguchi-gumi, confessed that he had planned to sell the products at a premium. Investigators said Ogawa ordered a 32-year-old trader in Taisho Ward here to give him 200 Tamagotches in late January. Although the trader promised to make the deal, he failed to have them in stock in time. Ogawa visited the trader’s office on Feb. 13 and threatened the man out of 5 million yen, saying “the buyers are now here in Osaka, and they are yakuza members,” according to police.

An updated version of the Tamagotch came out earlier this month and is reportedly sold out at most retailers. Advertisements on the Internet are pricing the 1,980 yen product at between 30,000 yen and 40,000 yen.