Nine Arrests in Dating Site Scam

LOS ANGELES — It is no secret to many casual dating site operators that the number of male members far exceeds the number of available females — but recent arrests in Japan are underscoring a surprising stat.

Reports are surfacing of the detention of nine Japanese executives of the Tetsuo Miura Group, including 42-year-old founder Tetsuo Miura, in a case of alleged consumer fraud that included the operation of an online dating site — which despite boasting a membership base of more than 2.7 million male users, had only one actual female member.

This was no audition for “The Bachelorette,” where more men than women should be expected, but a matter of men allegedly being paid to pose as women — using fake profiles and bogus images to charm male members into remaining customers of the site, which is characterized as “Japan’s biggest social network site and phone line app.”

Men reportedly paid 80,000 Yen (around $650) to subscribe to the site, where so-called “meat men,” flirted with them, encouraging the retention of their subscriptions, and allegedly using photographs that were stolen from other dating sites and social networks.

The Tetsuo Miura Group established the sites in 2004, generating a reported 10 billion Yen (more than $80 million) in revenues since.

Informally known as “sakura sites,” Japan outlawed the fraudulent marketing practices, but reportedly had not made enforcement of these statutes a priority, until this series of arrests.

While some observers feel that there is no harm caused when consumers receive what they paid for — the fantasy of an encounter with a woman of their dreams — other observers contend that the heavy use of social media and instant messaging by the meat men posing as women is outright fraud.

As for the program’s effectiveness, reports note that some site users spent upwards of $100,000 due to this swindle.