Even in detention, fraud suspects living it up in Philippines | #philippines | #philippinesscams | #lovescams

From the outside, an immigration detention center in Manila where suspected criminal mastermind “Luffy” is being held looks rundown. But inside, if inmates are well-heeled, the good life awaits.

How good? Well, air-conditioned rooms are available for a price.

On occasion, Kiyoto Imamura, one of the four Japanese suspects in the Luffy robbery case, would purchase a 10-kilogram slab of Japanese beef or a whole tuna from outside the facility and share the food with associates.

Another suspect, Tomonobu Kojima, boasted of shelling out 1 million yen ($7,550) for a pair of Nike sneakers.

Clearly, money talks.

This picture emerges from interviews with several sources as Japanese police continue their investigations into a string of violent robberies across Japan that they suspect the four orchestrated from the Manila facility.

Japanese police obtained arrest warrants for the four suspects for separate fraud cases.

Two of them were arrested when they left Philippines airspace Feb. 7 after being deported.

They arrived in Japan the same afternoon.

In November 2019, authorities in Manila said 36 Japanese were being held at an immigration detention center in the capital on suspicion of having made calls to defraud mainly elderly victims in Japan.

Later, Imamura arrived at the center. He was followed by three others: Yuki Watanabe, Toshiya Fujita and Kojima.

According to a former detainee of the center, Watanabe mingled with Korean inmates there, one of whom was called “Kim.”

“Kim” is one of the names used by those who gave instructions for the robberies in Japan.

The source said that although Watanabe sported tattoos, generally regarded in Japan as a sign that a person has gangster connections, he was “humble.”

Kojima, who is seven years older than Watanabe, used to call him “boss.”

When the source asked Kojima why he did so, Kojima replied, “It’s like (Watanabe’s) nickname.”

Kojima freely acknowledged he felt indebted to Watanabe “for helping me in the past,” according to the source.

The source said Kojima was on an iPhone all day at the center and had five or six at his disposal.

Once Kojima showed him a computer screen that displayed a list of addresses.

Kojima told him, “This is a list of people related to organized gangsters or wealthy people. This list can make money.”

The source didn’t have much contact with the other suspects, but he said Fujita was “always with Watanabe. He was quiet, he never initiated a conversation.”

The source also said Imamura and Watanabe “didn’t seem to get along with each other,” even though they both spoke with the same Hokkaido dialect, meaning they were from Japan’s northernmost main island.

Imamura lived separately from the other three suspects in the center.

At some point after he arrived, Imamura moved into a “VIP room” about 10 square meters in size and equipped with an air-conditioner. He shared the space with another Japanese man.

Another source, also male, said Imamura lived the good life there.

He noted that both Kojima and Fujita had multiple mobile phones, even though the devices were banned. He assumed they “were making money by doing something illegal.”

After the media started reporting that someone who went by the name of “Luffy” gave instructions in the series of robberies, the man said a Korean, who is currently held at the center, told him that “Imamura is Luffy.”

The Korean man explained that he used to communicate with Imamura via the Telegram app and that Imamura’s account name on the app was “Luffy.”

However, after the robberies were reported in the media, Imamura’s account disappeared from the app.

Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department formally filed an extradition request for the four suspects.

The MPD suspects that more than 6 billion yen was stolen in the fraud scams.

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