J-pop’s Juna Yamada formerly of SKE48 arrested for fraud

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March 17 (UPI) — A former member of J-pop group SKE48 was arrested for fraud committed through a mobile dating app.

Juna Yamada, 22, was charged with lying to a victim she met online about her investment expertise.

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Yamada allegedly defrauded an unidentified man in his 20s of 500,000 yen, about $4,580, and worked with a group that stole more than $531,000 from others, the Mainichi Shimbun and Asahi Shimbun reported Wednesday.

Yamada’s activities were conducted online after she created a profile on an online dating app using a false identity, Aichi Prefecture police said. In her description, Yamada promised app users she could teach them how to make money.

On Jan. 31, 2020, Yamada took the $4,580 payment from her victim, allegedly promising him lessons on how to predict stock market and currency exchange movements, authorities said.

According to the Mainichi, the learning material contained no clear details on investment methods.

The victim said he “trusted” Yamada because she listed her income as 10 million yen or more than $91,000 and uploaded pictures of designer goods to her profile, police said.

A police investigation is ongoing, but according to reports, the probe has found that more than 100 people from August 2019 to March 2020 had been swindled of about 58 million yen or $531,000.

Yamada and other suspects have denied the allegations.

Reo Taguchi, a university student under investigation, said the group “had no actual history of making money with binary options, and no expertise on how to.”

A representative of SKE48 said the arrest is regrettable, but maintained distance from the incident, the Asahi reported.

SKE48 is a sister group of AKB48, Japan’s leading pop group of young women singers and dancers, which at one point included 140 members.

SKE48 has subgroups of performers divided into three teams. The groups remain active in the Japanese entertainment industry.