https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20171020/p2a/00m/0na/012000c After latest arrest of 8, worries Japan now target of fake credit card smugglers Eight Malaysian nationals have been arrested by Chiba Prefectural Police on suspicion of importing fake credit cards into Japan hidden in a toy turtle and other items, investigative sources have revealed. The arrests are the latest in a string of similar cases across the country, all coming amid Japan's ongoing comprehensive shift to IC chip cards or IC-compatible payment platforms ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Games to prevent fraud. The switch, however, may in fact have spotlighted Japan as a target for credit card scams. The eight Malaysians arrested from September through October entered Japan through Narita Airport carrying a total of 63 fake credit cards inside a turtle plush toy and a travel pillow. The cards were discovered by an officer from the Tokyo Customs Narita Branch. Of the suspects, 29-year-old Tan Yong Jie allegedly used a fake card to acquire a 102,600 yen wristwatch in Fukuoka Prefecture, and was issued a fresh arrested warrant on Oct. 18 on separate fraud and other allegations. Tan was with a man who was arrested at Narita Airport, but she managed to escape investigators and enter the country. Tan reportedly then purchased the watch, plus brand-name bags and perfumes. She is said to have admitted to the allegations. While no foreign nationals were arrested for smuggling fake credit cards into Japan in 2016, there have already been 18 people arrested this year, including two other Malaysians at Kansai International Airport in June. The police believe that the counterfeit cards and the purchase of brand-name items may be linked to an international criminal organization and are investigating the backgrounds of the eight most recent suspects. According to sources close to the investigation, there are internet and other advertisements claiming that people who participate in fake credit card smuggling can sightsee in Japan. There are also reportedly instructions in Malay suggesting schemes like, "We will erase your debt, so go to Japan and bring back products!" According to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Japan Consumer Credit Association, it is relatively easy to commit credit card fraud in Japan compared to in the United States and Europe. There are two types of credit cards -- those with electromagnetic strips only and those with IC chips, the latter extremely difficult to counterfeit or use fraudulently. However, just 17 percent of domestic credit card transactions between December 2016 and February 2017 involved a chipped card -- versus 99 percent in Europe and 47 percent in the U.S. It is believed that credit card companies insuring merchants against money lost through fraud led to the slow adoption of IC payment platforms. The ministry and credit card companies are aiming for 100 percent of card transactions to be IC-based by the 2020 Games. A Japan Consumer Credit Association representative explained, "There is a possibility that Japan will be inundated with people using fake credit cards." With the steady increase in inbound tourism, one source close to the investigation warned that cases of smugglers pretending to be tourists bringing in fake cards and using them to shop may also rise.