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Saturday, January 15, 2000

Video chat room models, operators arrested by INS

A Honolulu-based Internet service
allegedly used video chat rooms
for live sessions with nude
Japanese women

By Rod Ohira


At a glance, there was nothing about the four young women from Japan seated in a federal courtroom with their attorneys and interpreters that would set them apart in a crowd.

But they're special models, allegedly smuggled from Japan to do nude posing for a Honolulu-based Internet service that was raided yesterday by federal agents and police.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service capped a five-month investigation by arresting the models and four others at a Kamehameha Heights residence.

Immigration District Director Don Radcliffe said the operation at 1155 Hala Drive used video chat rooms to conduct live sessions with the models.

"There was a lot of money changing hands, between $20,000 to $40,000 a week," Radcliffe said.

Akira Sekimoto is the alleged ringleader of the operation, according to Radcliffe.

Sekimoto and Takao Ono -- the president and vice president, respectively, of Aloha Data Ltd. -- were indicted Thursday for conspiring to smuggle aliens into the United States.

Also indicted on the felony count were Sean Nakayama and Shihoko Sakamoto.

Prosecutors are seeking to hold Sekimoto and Ono without bail. A detention hearing for Sekimoto, Ono and Nakayama is scheduled for Thursday.

Sakamoto entered a not-guilty plea yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Leslie Kobayashi. Her case is scheduled for trial March 14.

The alleged models -- Kaori Ishino, Akemi Hosono, Yukako Abe and Misaki Natsuhori -- are charged with using false or misleading information to gain entry into the United States, a misdemeanor.

They were placed on probation and released on $100 bond each.

According to an affidavit filed by INS special agent James Hrysyzen, 18 women were brought in to work as nude Internet models since June 1. This allegedly was Ishino's third trip.

Most of the models worked for a couple of weeks and returned to Japan, the affidavit says.

In a printed e-mail message recovered from trash last August, the affidavit says, a co-conspirator who was not present in court yesterday noted to a woman model here:

"Have as much fun as you can. As long as you do your job, it must be the best place. If you have a chance, go again."

The investigation began last summer when the Immigration Service received information from a source, identified as Michael Mew, that Japanese women were in the United States posing nude for photographs to be published on the Internet.

The Hala Drive residence was identified as the base of operations, and from last Aug. 10, investigators began gathering evidence through trash collections from the house.

The Web address was found in the trash last November. The activities originating at 1155 Hala Drive are accessed by customers through the address, entitled "Japanese Feed," the affidavit says.

Investigators accessed "Japanese Feed" on Dec. 7, purchasing 120 minutes for $119.95.

Photos of the women available for chat are provided in addition to information such as height, weight and questions relating to sexual preferences.

The affidavit notes:

"Live video chat was conducted with females identified by their chat names as Naoko, Asami, Satomi, Ruri, Rika and Mako. The chat is conducted using a keyboard.

"On. Dec. 7, 1999, live video chat was conducted with two females identified on a chat schedule as Naoko and Asami. The chat appears to be in real time as both females respond to questions and gave responses instantaneously.

"The entire chat session was conducted in Japanese. Other participants in the chat, presumably other customers, were also conversing in Japanese."

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