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Con artists target elderly

Date Posted: 2003-10-31

Unscrupulous con artists are preying on elderly women in Okinawa, and police say they’re receiving numerous complaints. Police say that the cases began to appear about six months ago, with similar reports being reported throughout the country. The first such cases in Okinawa were reported in April.

The method is simple. The crook calls senior women at random and claims to be their grandson, nephew and even son. If the senior believes that the caller indeed is their younger relative, the crook then proceeds to say that he is in a bit trouble and needs some money.

He may claim that he has been a part of a car accident, or that he needs to help a friend, or even that he has run into trouble with local gangster and need to pay them off. He then tells the target a bank account number where he expects the money to arrive. According to Prefectural Police, 17 elderly women have made the trip to the bank so far.

In most cases the women, being obviously delighted that younger people still contact them, have been only too eager to help. Police suspect that the crooks pick up names that seem to be those of elderly women at random from the telephone directory. Many senior women have names that people have not given to their daughters in decades. If the target suspects foul play, or has no son or nephew, the caller simply hangs up.

In one case the crook even walked to the door of an elderly woman and claimed to be a friend of her grandson who had gotten into trouble with gangsters. The frightened woman then handed Y750,000 to the man, who then disappeared.

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