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Japanese Police Bust Nationwide Crypto Crime Ring

Japanese Police Bust Nationwide Crypto Crime Ring 101
Source: iStock/Electra-K-Vasileiadou

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s cybercrime division, acting in conjunction with local police forces in Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture, says it has busted a cryptocurrency fraud ring worth at least USD 1.8 million. Police said they had made seven arrests thus far, but official sources have suggested that more may follow.

Media reports in Japan say police believe a man posing as a legitimate cryptocurrency trader is at the center of the ring, and that the men arrested in Hyogo may have been attempting to launder money through him.

The man is said to have applied for an official license as an authorized cryptocurrency exchange trader. Police say their investigation is ongoing, but have suggested the man enabled cryptocurrency to yen transfers for fraudsters and money launderers.

Media reports also claim that police had been tracking the suspects since last year, when a number of the accused met in a Tokyo hotel to discuss possible collaboration.

The Japanese government has said it is aware that cryptocurrencies – which are considered legal tender in the country – have been used to launder money. Tokyo hoped to convince fellow G20 members to impose international anti-money laundering regulations at a meeting of finance ministers last month, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

In February, an anonymous crypto broker claimed that brokerages were knowingly enabling money laundering for the Yakuza, a notorious crime ring and Japan’s answer to the mafia.

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