Religious guru dupes disciple out of 123 million yen

Mainichi Daily News (Japan), May 7, 2003

A 73-year-old soothsayer-cum-religious guru was hit with a 6-year jail term Wednesday for defrauding a female follower out of over 123 million yen, a Tokyo court ruled.

Emiko Hirabayashi, leader of the Reiji Kiraku Nijo-kai religious group, talked the victim into handing over the money by saying, “Banks will go under any time now. It’s much safer to entrust the money to me,” and “I have to purify the money to revitalize your fortune.” In reality, she used the money to cover her heavy debts.

“The defendant, who was heavily indebted and was struggling to run her group on a shoestring, contemptibly exploited the victim’s unsettled personal situation,” Judge Yukio Hayakawa said in handing the sentence to the 73-year-old woman at the Tokyo District Court.

Court documents showed that Hirabayashi stole a total 123.5 million yen from the wealthy female follower from 1997 to 1998.

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