The Not So Great Japanese Bond Scam

A yen for selling fake Japanese government bonds landed three people in jail on Jan. 18. The U.S. Attorney in Tampa ended a four-month probe into a scheme to sell 2 trillion yen, or up to $16 billion, of phony bonds. Two suspects, Bruce Hansberry, 42, and Roger Allen Hill, 55, were arrested in Tampa after trying to sell $100 million of the bonds to undercover agents posing as brokers. Hansberry's mother, B.J. Bravender Ah Loo, was arrested in Los Angeles. The three are being held but have yet to be indicted or enter pleas.

Ah Loo's claim of being managing director of a Hong Kong company offering Japanese "Series 57 National Bonds" drew investigators' interest. Asking for proof of the boasts, they got a photocopy of a 50 billion-yen Japanese bond. But Japan doesn't issue bonds in amounts of more than 1 billion yen.

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