Twenty-five Japanese men were arrested Wednesday for allegedly running a phone scam operation out of Phnom Penh against people across Japan following their deportation from Cambodia.
The suspects, who range in age from 20 to 42 and were arrested while aboard a flight bound for Tokyo's Haneda airport, are believed to have swindled at least 240 million yen ($1.6 million) from their victims, according to investigative sources.
Allegations against the group include calling a woman in her 70s in Hokkaido in northern Japan around August, claiming she had won the right to move into a nursing home, and then defrauding her of 450,000 yen in cash. She was also duped out of 50,000 yen in electronic money under the pretense of resolving a dispute regarding her transfer.
Cambodian authorities raided an apartment in Phnom Penh in September, detaining the 25 and confiscating devices, including dozens of mobile phones and computers.
Three Japanese suspects escaped the raid, and they are believed to have fled to neighboring Thailand, according to local investigative sources.
Thai police separately said Wednesday they have arrested four men, two Japanese and two Taiwanese, for allegedly conducting similar phone scams from Bangkok.
The police have seized mobile phones, computers and manuals for defrauding Japanese by phone from a house in the Thai capital, and said more people are suspected of being involved in the scam.
The Taiwanese men are believed to be the chief culprits in the scam operated from the house, the police said. The Japanese nationals, aged 41 and 49, were employed by the Taiwanese and entered Thailand in October.
The four men allegedly posed as bank staff or police officers, tricking individuals in Japan into transferring funds to designated bank accounts with tactics including making false claims about debts.