$3 Million Romance Fraudster Arrested

Police arrested over a dozen suspected money mules recently after identifying a Japanese man they believe is responsible for a major romance fraud campaign.

The accused, Hikaru Morikawa, has been extradited to Japan after being arrested in Ghana. Morikawa is accused to posing as women on dating sites to trick victims into handing over money. His crimes accrued almost $3 million in cash, according to Interpol. 

The news of Morikawa's arrest coincides with the launch of Interpol's new campaign warning the public of the dangers of romance scams after arresting 15 individuals suspected of being involved in a major romance scam conspiracy. 

Interpol will launch the two-week global campaign in which it will highlight the role of money mules in modern crime.  The awareness campaign is being launched as part of Project TORAID, an Interpol initiative targeting financial crime funded by the Japanese government. The campaign aims to engage people so that they are responsible for keeping their own bank accounts safer and will address how the industry works, the risks associated and how to avoid becoming a money mule, Interpol has said.

The international policing organisation’s Financial Crime and Anti-Corruption Centre (IFCACC) said the global campaign would highlight the critical role mules play in modern crime. It will use the hashtag #YourAccountYourCrime on social media to remind people that they are responsible for keeping their own bank accounts safe, and that moving money on behalf of others could land them in trouble.

Romance scams made fraudsters over $956m in 2021, making it the third-highest earner for criminals, said an FBI report. “In 2021, America experienced an unprecedented increase in cyber attacks and malicious cyber activity. These cyber attacks compromised businesses in an extensive array of business sectors as well as the American public... “As the cyber threat evolves and becomes increasingly intertwined with traditional foreign intelligence threats and emerging technologies, the FBI continues to leverage our unique authorities and partnerships to impose risks and consequences on our nation’s cyber adversaries’.

The campaign aims to raise awareness and will explain the risks associated and how targets commonly fall for these scams.    

Interpol:     IC3 FBI:      Oodaloop:     The Cybersecurity News:     Infosecurity Magazine:       NewsPosTalk:

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