The Posts and Telecommunications Ministry will begin an investigation into the status of telephone message dating services in the country.

The move, announced Monday, follows the hypothermia deaths of two women in recent weeks who were drugged with sleeping pills by a man they met through one of the services, according to the ministry.

The ministry aims to determine the number of service providers as well as the contents of the services, said Sadanori Amano, chief of the ministry’s Telecommunications Bureau.

The number of crimes involving telephone message services has been increasing annually. In 1997, police booked 1,185 service users and providers on suspicion of robbery, fraud or other criminal acts.

The ministry’s task is not expected to be an easy one because some service providers have legally established their businesses without notifying authorities.

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