More details are trickling out about a major pandemic subsidy fraud case in which one group netted some 960 million yen ($7.5 million) through harvesting the identities of hundreds of people across Japan.

The group had submitted some 1,780 fraudulent applications for COVID-19 subsidies over the course of four months, according to investigative sources. Those applications began to roll in soon after the government started handing the subsidies out to small businesses struggling due to the pandemic, police sources said.

The group includes Mitsuhiro Taniguchi, who is still wanted but is believed to have fled the country, and three of his family members who have been arrested.

The Metropolitan Police Department in Tokyo believes that the group held informational seminars about the subsidy to quickly collect the people’s identities over a short period of time and then file fraudulent applications in their names.

Sources said Taniguchi, 47, who served as a representative of a restaurant management company in Tokyo’s Roppongi district, held seminars at the company’s office and at family restaurants. He invited acquaintances and claimed that anyone can get money through the program. He reportedly asked them to apply for the subsidies.

To do that, applicants are required to present identification documents, such as a driver’s license, their bank account information so the subsidies could be transferred into their account, and copies of their tax returns.

Taniguchi and his group had seminar participants submit copies of their IDs and fill in their names and addresses on tax return forms prepared by the group, sources said.

The group also fraudulently wrote down on the forms that the participants’ businesses had made at least some sales before the novel coronavirus pandemic, the sources said.

Taniguchi’s second son, 21, and other group members, then submitted the tax returns to tax offices and obtained copies, according to the sources.

The group submitted a fraudulent application under the name of the company that Taniguchi’s ex-wife was operating on May 1, 2020, when the government’s subsidy program started. Over the next four months, the group apparently made about 1,780 false applications under the names of people from 36 prefectures collected through acquaintances and the seminars.

More than 960 of these subsidy applications were approved. The government provided up to 1 million yen per case to people who gave their names. Taniguchi and his group apparently received up to hundreds of thousands of yen in each instance as rewards.

Police have placed Taniguchi on an international wanted list, while his ex-wife, his eldest son, and his second son were arrested on fraud charges on May 30.

(This article was written by Masayuki Takashima and Keita Yamaguchi.)