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Non-existent moai group lands woman in jail

Date Posted: 2003-04-12

Moai is an Okinawan custom where a group of people gets together once a month and pay a fixed sum of money to a common pot that each of them can take in turn. Many local mid-size and small company owners also use moai as means of raising money when bank loans are hard to get.

All does not go always well, though. A 49-year-old female jewelry shop owner in Okinawa City asked four of her acquaintances to join a moai with payments of 100,000 per month each. After collecting the money for 26 months, one of the four finally said that he would like to get the pot, and asked the woman to take him to the group's next meeting.

However, instead of taking the man to the monthly gathering, the woman came up with one excuse after another. This aroused the man's suspicion, and he finally asked the police to investigate. The investigation revealed that there was no moai group. The woman had simply pocketed the monthly payments from all four members for almost three years. Her loot finally totaled 14.4 million. The woman was arrested on suspicion of fraud.

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