The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

‘Cosmonaut’ suspected of cheating woman

- The Yomiuri Shimbun

HIGASHI-OMI, Shiga — She believed he loved her. And that he was a Russian cosmonaut as he claimed. And that he actually needed money to return to Earth from the Internatio­nal Space Station. Now she is out ¥4.4 million.

Police said Oct. 7 it suspects that a 65-year-old woman has fallen victim to fraud a er transferri­ng that amount in a case it is investigat­ing as an internatio­nal romance scam, in which a fraudster swindles money from a person by establishi­ng a deceitful relationsh­ip.

According to the Higashi-Omi Police Station in Shiga Prefecture, the Higashi-Omi woman met the self-proclaimed Russian man via Instagram on June 28. He told her that he worked on the Internatio­nal Space Station.

e alleged cosmonaut started sending her messages on the Line message app, telling her that he wanted to start a new life in Japan and professing his love for her. In one message, he said that saying it 1,000 times would not be enough, but he would continue to say he loves her.

e person subsequent­ly requested money needed for landing fees for a rocket’s return to Earth and other purposes. e woman believed the story and made ve wire transfers totaling ¥4.4 million between Aug. 19 and Sept. 5.

However, as the requests continued, she became suspicious and reported the case to the police.

“As he brought up the name of existing organizati­ons like NASA [the U.S. National Aeronautic­s and Space Administra­tion] and JAXA [the Japan Aerospace Exploratio­n Agency], I believed him,” the woman was quoted as telling the police. (Oct. 10)

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