Police suspect millions of yen withdrawn using fake Chinese UnionPay cards in Japan

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 November, 2016, 5:26pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 November, 2016, 5:26pm

At least several hundred million yen may have been withdrawn from bank ATMs in Japan using counterfeit Chinese UnionPay cards, a source at a major Japanese bank said on Thursday, with police having arrested four Taiwanese men in connection with the fraud over the past six months.

UnionPay cards are widely used among Chinese people to make purchases. Cash withdrawals using fake UnionPay cards have been reported at numerous Japanese banks, leading the police to suspect the involvement of an overseas crime ring.

Among the four arrested, Chen Cheng-hsien, 22, was arrested on suspicion of unlawfully withdrawing a total of 450,000 yen (US$4,100) by using three forged UnionPay cards at a bank ATM in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward on October 25. He has admitted to the allegation, the police said.

Two other men were arrested in May and another man in July. All three, who are also 22 years old, have been indicted on charges including theft.

The four men came to Japan after being recruited in Taiwan to make cash withdrawals, the police said. When arrested, they had with them roughly 200 UnionPay cards that were fake or belonging to someone other than them. They have told the police that a man with a supervisory role gave them the cards.

Tracking the cards’ use, the police have built cases for suspected fraudulent cash withdrawals worth 15.7 million yen so far. UnionPay is a bank card association established in 2002. Its cards have both credit and debit functions and can be used to withdraw money from cardholders’ accounts at the ATMs of partnered financial institutions and make purchases at businesses that accept them.