NAGOYA — As August 24 marks 15 years since a woman in central Japan was murdered by a group of men who met through an underground mobile phone site and planned a robbery, the method to lure the people in crime and illegal activities online today remains in a new form.
In August 2007, a group of three men, who met through an underground mobile phone site, kidnapped 31-year-old Rie Isogai from a street in the Chikusa district of Nagoya as she was returning home. The men stole 60,000 yen (about $440 at the current exchange rate) in cash and other items, and hit her head with a hammer several dozen times and killed her by suffocating her with a rope. The death penalty was imposed on one of the attackers, while life imprisonment was handed down to the other two, one of whom was sentenced to death for another crime.
The Mainichi Shimbun spoke to a 27-year-old woman living in the Naka district of the city of Nagoya, who was approached by a personality she met on social media about illegal part-time work . Two years ago, the woman had to close a restaurant she managed due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The woman was clinging to straws as she didn’t know how to pay off debts totaling about 2.5 million yen (about $18,000) and eventually posted on Twitter, “I’m in financial trouble. Is there there a well-paying part-time job?”
In 10 minutes, she received eight responses regarding job offers. The woman first chose a part-time position to buy watches for other people. She bought an expensive limited-edition watch while waiting in line early in the morning and received 100,000 yen (about $730) at a designated location. Although there were other offers to “steal a car from a rich man”, she continued to accept offers that seemed less illicit.
However, in December 2021, she took on the role of collecting money for a fraud group. It was a job to pick up an envelope and deliver it to a designated location. The woman was instructed by the other party to only say, “It’s okay. I’ll take it,” no matter what she’s asked. When the woman walked to the specified location, an elderly woman was pacing around, looking agitated with an envelope in her hand outside the entrance to a house. The former restaurant manager finally noticed she was involved in fraud and said she “got scared and went home”.
She did not respond to the series of phone calls and messages she later received and deleted her Twitter account. From this incident, she quit part-time jobs of this nature, but said she still feared the other parties would take revenge on her.
According to the Internet Hotline Center, which is mandated by the National Police Agency to accept reports of illegal and harmful online activities, approximately 395,000 cases of child pornography, sale of bank accounts and other activities have been reported. in 2020, about five times the total. in 2007 when the Nagoya incident happened. There were also reportedly around 3,500 cases of people undertaking or being approached to undertake an illegal activity.
The woman is currently paying off her debts by working part-time in several restaurants. She said: “Not only was I about to cause misfortune to others, but my life was nearly ruined. I became painfully aware of the fear of social media because you can easily be drawn into crime. .”
(Japanese original by Ayaka Morita, Nagoya News Center)