At least several hundred million yen may have been withdrawn from ATMs in Japan using counterfeit Chinese UnionPay cards, with four Taiwanese men arrested in connection with the fraud over the past six months, a source at a major Japanese bank said Thursday.
UnionPay cards are widely used among Chinese people to make purchases. Cash withdrawals using fake UnionPay cards have been reported at numerous Japanese banks, leading police to suspect the involvement of an overseas crime ring.
One suspect, Chen Cheng-hsien, 22, was arrested on suspicion of unlawfully withdrawing a total of ¥450,000 ($4,100) by using three forged UnionPay cards at an ATM in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward on Oct. 25. He has admitted to the allegation, police said.
Two other men were arrested in May and another man in July. All three, who are also 22 years old, have been indicted on charges including theft.
The four men came to Japan after being recruited in Taiwan to make cash withdrawals, the police said. When arrested, they had with them roughly 200 UnionPay cards that were fake or belonging to someone other than them. They have told police that a man with a supervisory role gave them the cards.
Tracking the cards’ use, police have so far built cases for suspected fraudulent cash withdrawals worth ¥15.7 million so far.
UnionPay is a bank card association established in 2002. Its cards have both credit and debit functions and can be used to withdraw money from cardholders’ accounts at the ATMs of partnered financial institutions as well as make purchases at businesses that accept them.
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