National / Crime & Legal

Under Japan's revised anti-gangster law, yakuza boss told to pay damages for money transfer scam

Kyodo

A court on Thursday ordered the head of the Sumiyoshi-kai crime syndicate to pay damages over money transfer scams committed by a fraud group formed by an affiliated gang member.

The Mito District Court ordered Isao Seki, head of Japan’s second largest crime syndicate, and Hareaki Fukuda, former head of the gang, to pay ¥6.05 million ($55,000) to two out of three women in Ibaraki Prefecture who sought ¥7 million in damages in the lawsuit.

According to the complaint, the three received calls at their homes in 2016 from people pretending to be their relatives in need of money. Two of the women paid ¥5 million in total.

The court rejected the complaint of the third as she soon realized the call was a scam and did not transfer any money.

Presiding Judge Eiko Maeda said Seki and Fukuda were responsible for paying the damages because, while the two were not directly involved in the scams, the “power” of the Sumiyoshi-kai was used in the process of carrying out the crime, such as in recruiting accomplices.

The fraud group was created by the member of the Sumiyoshi-kai affiliated organization, a male acquaintance of the member and a university student.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer said it is the first time that a yakuza boss has been held liable, in light of a revised anti-gangster law, for a so-called special fraud case that targets people randomly and gets them to pay money through telephone calls and other means of communication.

Elderly people have often fallen prey to those cases, with experts in the field pointing to the involvement of crime syndicates.

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