• Kyodo

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Investigators examining “phishing” scams said about ¥600,000 was illegally transferred from the online accounts of Mizuho Bank customers, and the culprit then withdrew several hundred thousand yen from the funds.

Police and banking officials have confirmed similar illicit transactions via the Internet involving the accounts of customers at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Co. and Rakuten Bank Ltd., but this is the first time a withdrawal of stolen bank funds has been reported.

On Monday, money in the accounts of two Mizuho Bank customers in Tokyo was illegally moved to other bank accounts. The cash withdrawal was confirmed by Friday. The two victims had followed instructions on a fake website that tricked them into entering their password and personal identification code.

In a related development, police Friday arrested a 53-year-old man in Aichi Prefecture who had opened a bank account that received an illegal online transfer of funds from a Sumitomo Mitsui customer in a similar scam.

Around ¥2 million was swiped from the account of the customer, a resident in the Kansai region who was duped Monday by another false website, according to police.

The suspect told police he had handed control of his account over to a Chinese acquaintance, who apparently held three separate bank accounts in his name that received illegal Internet money transfers, investigators said.

The Chinese suspect is believed to have already fled Japan.

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