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Three Held For Allegedly Swindling Deaf People

February 15, 2007

Thursday, Feb. 15, 2007

Three held for allegedly swindling deaf people

Kyodo News

A Tokyo business owner conversant in sign language and two others were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of defrauding deaf people and their families of more than 2 billion yen.

Yoko Kobayashi, 55, president of Coroniwaizu, a firm that sells equipment for disabled people, Eiko Machida, 56, a former company former employee, and her 28-year-old son Norikiyo Machida.

The two others are suspected of collecting about 2.7 billion yen from about 270 people between 2000 and 2005, telling them the money would be used to build a facility for the deaf, police said.

Kobayashi has said that she collected money from deaf people but did not intend to defraud them. According to police, Kobayashi, who has deaf family members, used sign language to persuade people to invest in the scheme.

The three allegedly promised higher yields on the investments than those obtainable on bank deposits. They guaranteed that returns would be paid every month and the capital would be repaid immediately when needed, according to police.

Of the 2.7 billion yen collected, the suspects allegedly used about 600 million yen as returns for the investors, but the remainder of the money is unaccounted for, police said.

The Japan Times