Japan Data

Financial Losses from Specialized Fraud in Japan Drop 20% in First Half of 2019


Specialized fraud reports and damages fell in the first half of 2019, even as perpetrators use new scams.

Statistics compiled by the Japanese National Police Agency show that 8,025 incidents of specialized fraud were reported from January to June 2019, a decline of 735 incidents year over year. Financial losses from such fraud also fell by 21.4% in the same period, dropping ¥4.0 billion to ¥14.6 billion. 

Nonetheless, people in Japan are still being swindled out of some ¥80 million a day by such schemes, which remain a serious problem. Seniors aged 65 and over account for 82.2% of scam victims, and 97.2% of those preyed on by the ore ore sagi (it’s me, it’s me scam), in which fraudsters swindle their targets by pretending to be relatives.

In the period in question, ore ore scams declined year over year by 991 to 3,570 incidents, false billing scams by 739 to 1,722 incidents, and advance-fee frauds by 80 to 138 incidents.

There was a year-over-year increase in refund scams in the period in question, however. In this type of fraud, scammers pretend that they can help targets get tax refunds or rebates on medical or other expenses that they are supposedly owed. The number of such incidents rose by 307 to 1,157 incidents, and losses also increased 30.8% to ¥1.43 billion.

A recent noteworthy development is a significant increase in thefts of ATM cards. In these incidents, scammers claiming to be police officers or representatives of financial institutions call and visit elderly persons to tell them that their ATM cards are supposedly being misused, and that it is necessary for them to be examined and replaced with new, valid cards. The perpetrators then have victims write the PIN on a note and put it in an envelope together with the card. Next, they tell the victims to keep the envelope in a safe place, as it represents evidence. Finally, the perpetrators get the victims to leave them alone with the envelope, even for a brief time, on some pretext such as needing the victim’s personal stamp on some documents for records. While the victims are absent, the scammers switch the envelope containing the victim’s ATM card and PIN with a dummy envelope.

The number of incidents of this type rose 2.5-fold year over year in the first half of 2019 to 1,393 cases. Losses likewise increased 2.9 times to ¥2.0 billion.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Cora/Pixta)

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