Lawyers for victims of a massive fraud involving the G.O. investment group plan to sue two broadcasters for airing TV ads featuring the group’s president, Genta Ogami, who is now under arrest.
The lawyers, led by Hiroshi Yamaguchi, believe Nippon Television and Asahi National Broadcasting are responsible for exacerbating the damage from the fraud because some of the victims put money in the bogus investment scheme after watching the TV commercials and believing the G.O. group was a trustworthy business.
They plan to take the action against the broadcasters by the end of November.
Police arrested the 39-year-old Ogami in September in connection with specifically defrauding individuals out of more than 100 million yen via bogus investment schemes.
But investigators suspect the Ogami-founded group collected more than 30 billion yen from about 30,000 people throughout Japan, mostly housewives and elderly people, after promising high dividends if they put money in the advertising of its mail-order catalog service on TV and in newspapers.
They were told they would be paid dividends in accordance with the sales of the mail-order products.
According to the lawyers, the TV commercial concerned “health” tea sold by a G.O. affiliate.
NTV aired the commercial from October 1999 to September 2000, while TV Asahi ran the ad for two months from August 1998 and again for eight months starting in October 2000. Some of the victims of the scam believed the G.O. group was trustworthy because the commercials were aired on TV, the lawyers said.
Some even contacted the TV stations, inquiring about viewer reactions to the ads.
The lawyers argue that the damage from the fraud could have been contained if the TV stations had properly examined whether the G.O. scheme was viable.
They held negotiations with the two broadcasters in August and September, but the talks broke down when the TV stations refused to accept responsibility and pay damages.
The plaintiffs will probably include about 20 of the fraud victims, the lawyers said. The amount of damages they will seek has yet to be determined.
A spokesman said NTV aired the commercials because it did not find any problem with their contents. He declined further comment.
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