What is fraud?
Fraud is a criminal offence stipulated under Article 246 of the Penal Code. Article 246(1) says:
A person who defrauds another of property shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not more than 10 years.
In Japan, if a fraudster is convicted in a criminal court, s/he will be imprisoned up to 10 years.
Who can be a victim of fraud?
Fraud is a classic crime which has already been prohibited in, if my understanding is correct, the Old Testament.
You must have received emails requesting you to provide information regarding your credit card etc., which are called phishing email. These attempts are a part of a fraud (the special type under Article 246-2).
Not only individuals but businesses can be a victim of fraud. In the case that I handled before, a Hong Kong company entered into a transaction with a Japanese company in which the Hong Kong company bought nappies in large quantities to sell in China. After the first several successful transactions, the Hong Kong company ordered them for more than JPY 100 million at a time. However, the Japanese company did not deliver nappies and its Chinese owner absconded with the money. We froze its bank account before being emptied. It is typical of a fraudster to establish trust with preceding small transactions before acquiring a bigger order.
How can you get your money back?
As fraud is a criminal offence, you may bring the matter to the police and then the case goes to the Public Prosecutors Office. However, the job of public prosecutors is to persuade the judge to deliver a conviction against the fraudster and not to seek compensation for the victim. If you became the victim, you would learn that the Japanese police and prosecutors are only interested in you as a witness. For them, the justice means a punishment on the wrongdoer, neither more nor less. Your money will not be recovered unless you claim yourself in a civil court.
We can help that process. In some cases, you should bring the fraudster both to a criminal and civil court and in other cases, you should bring them only to a civil court. There are many differences between a criminal and civil court e.g. the criminal standard of proof “beyond reasonable doubt” is stricter than the civil standard of proof “balance of probabilities”. Whichever your case is, it is sensible to seek advice from a legal professional as soon as you have been defrauded. Speed is critical in a fraud case.
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