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Gangsters’ call programs prove costly to consumers

Date Posted: 2003-11-21

Incidents of so-called “one ring calls” are again on the rise in Okinawa. According to Okinawa’s Consumer Protection Center, they have received almost three times as many complaints about exorbitant cellular telephone bills as last year. This time the operators seem to be closely connected to adult sites and gangsters who operate them.

The system utilizes a computer program that calls cell phone numbers at random. The phone rings only once, and when the receiver returns the call, he gets nailed with a very expensive phone bill.

Officials at the Consumer Center say that they received 516 complaints in just three months from April through June. And the incidents are increasing. “Last month we got more than 200 complaints,” an official said.

“Many people have already paid. We have cases here when people paid Y80,000 or Y110,000. They are also using strong-arm tactics to make people pay. One of the persons who contacted us had received a bill for Y480,000, followed by threatening e-mails stating that if the payment was not forthcoming they would visit the man’s home and make his life and his family’s difficult. Another e-mail said that someone might get hurt,” the official said.

“We strongly urge people not to pay any of the suspiciously high bills. Instead they should contact us and we can help them,” the official advises.

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