National / Crime & Legal

Seven-Eleven Japan employee becomes third suspect in 7pay mobile payment thefts

Kyodo

A Chinese student and Seven-Eleven employee was arrested Friday in connection with the ¥55 million heist conducted via 7pay, the new mobile payment service launched by Seven-Eleven Japan.

Yu Huiling is the third suspect to be detained in a case police think may be linked to an international crime organization based in China.

Yu, a 21-year-old part-timer at a Seven-Eleven in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, is suspected of using stolen IDs for the service to buy around ¥32,000 ($295) worth of 15 items including electronic cigarette cartridges and cosmetics at the convenience store where she worked.

Seven & I Holdings Co.’s 7pay has been hit by hundreds of cases of unauthorized access since the payment service was launched on July 1 at over 20,000 outlets across Japan. The thefts have costs about 900 clients some ¥55 million, and the company has since suspended applications from new users and prevented current clients from adding money to their accounts.

Just last week, police arrested two Chinese men who used stolen IDs to settle payments for e-cigarettes at a Seven-Eleven outlet in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward, on suspicion of attempted fraud.

Yu told investigators she had received a message from a Chinese friend offering money in exchange for help buying cigarettes on 7pay, via the social messaging app WeChat on July 3, according to the police.

The suspect allegedly used the 7pay IDs and passwords of several people to settle payments for the 15 items during her shift sometime between 10 p.m. July 4 and 12:45 a.m. the following day.

Yu was quoted as saying she planned to send the items to China via a courier service, the police said.

The alleged theft came to light when a man contacted the store after noticing the transaction in his purchase history immediately after payment was made.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said last week that Seven & I had failed to strictly follow guidelines for preventing unauthorized access and warned providers of similar services to ensure they confirm the identity of their users.