Police on Oct. 16 began arresting 12 people connected to a land fraud ring that cost a major housing developer billions of yen.

Metropolitan Police Department officers arrested Masami Haketa, 63, and others on suspicion of using counterfeited personal documents and attempting to include false information into public electronic records.

Arrest warrants have been obtained for 12 people, who are being sought by police.

Police believe the group planned an elaborate scheme to assume the identity of the owner of a prime real estate plot in Tokyo's Shinagawa Ward.

Osaka-based Sekisui House Ltd. planned to construct a large condominium complex on the 2,000-square-meter plot that is located about 300 meters southwest of JR Gotanda Station.

The land once was the location for a Japanese-style inn. Because of its location, many developers showed an interest in constructing a condominium complex or a hotel on the site.

According to investigative sources, the group counterfeited a letter of proxy and submitted it to the Shinagawa branch of the Tokyo Legal Affairs Bureau to change the registration for the land in question from the then 72-year-old woman owner to a real estate company. The woman has since died.

Haketa is suspected of assuming the identity of the real owner and meeting with Sekisui House executives who were interested in buying the land. Haketa apparently used a fake passport as ID, but Sekisui House officials detected nothing suspicious about it.

Four days later, on April 24, 2017, Sekisui House used a Tokyo real estate company as an intermediary and signed a contract to purchase the plot for about 7 billion yen ($62.6 million). As a down payment, Sekisui House handed over about 1.4 billion yen.

On June 1, 2017, after about 750 million yen was subtracted for what the woman claimed would go to her purchase of a unit in the condominium complex, Sekisui House paid the remaining 4.9 billion yen.

On June 9, 2017, Sekisui House officials submitted an application to register the change in ownership, but the legal affairs bureau rejected it because the document had been counterfeited. The company has not been able to acquire the plot, which is owned by a relative of the 72-year-old woman.

Sekisui House admitted in a news release on Aug. 2, 2017, that it had been defrauded. It recorded a special loss in its July mid-year financial statement after being unable to recover 5.55 billion yen that it had paid the group.