SPOTLIGHT: Japanese VoIP scam artists busted


Japanese police are investigating a phone-scam ring that used VoIP technology to avoid identification. Police say the group, based out of Tokyo, used VoIP features to cause Tokyo's "03" area code to show up on outbound calls regardless of the user's actual location.

The group, which used the NTT network to make its calls, made off with close to $1 million since it began its fraudulent practices in August 2007, according to financial information reported by police. The scammers connected their VoIP client to the network through a broker, which made tracing them very difficult.

Mitsuhiro Hara, the alleged ringleader of the operation, was arrested along with five others in conjunction with the fraud, and has since admitted guilt saying, "After we started using VoIP, we didn't worry very much about the police finding our hideout."

The group was eventually outed after one of its members was arrested in connection with another case. 

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