• Kyodo

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A 65-year-old man in Kaizuka, Osaka Prefecture, who committed suicide earlier this month left a note lamenting that he had been hounded by loan sharks, and police and lawyers “were of no help,” it was learned Friday.

According to police, the man was apparently the victim of a type of fraud in which he was sent unsolicited cash and then told to repay the money at high interest. He had contacted police three times this month, and officers told him to ignore the demands for repayment and not pay any money. Investigators said they would begin tracking down the party who sent the cash and harassed the man on suspicion of violating the law regulating such financial transactions, including deposits and interest.

Police said the victim was found dead inside a parked car on a street in the city at around 8:20 a.m. on Sept. 17. He apparently hanged himself with a rope tied to a handle above the window. He had left four suicide notes, addressed to his family and to police, in which he said he could no longer bear the loan shark harassment.

The victim, who lived with his wife, was sent 20,000 yen in cash in the mail in June last year after receiving a phone call from a man speaking in a Kanto region dialect who said he had heard the man was having money problems.

Since then, the victim repeatedly got phone calls demanding he pay 15,000 yen every month. The bank account to which he was told to make remittances to was often changed, and police said they suspect he had paid some 200,000 yen by the time of his suicide.

Harassing phone calls were also made to his neighbors, police said, and right before his death the man was quoted as apologizing to them for the trouble and telling them he had contacted police and a lawyer and “there should be no problem in the future.”

According to Kaizuka police, the man had come to them saying his lawyer was unable to track down the loan shark who had sent the money, and he wanted the authorities to help.

Police claimed they handled the case properly “within the bounds of common sense.”

In June 2003, three people in the city of Yao, Osaka Prefecture, committed suicide after being victimized by loan sharks. Outrage over the incident led to enactment the following month of legislation that stiffened penalties against usury and lenders operating illegally.

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