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Scam artists still working Okinawa

Date Posted: 2004-11-26

Okinawa citizens are being victimized by scam artists claiming their sons or daughters are involved in violent incidents.

The slick talking fraud teams pick a family, then place a call such as one this week to a doctor. “Your son has trouble. He was in a car accident.” It wasn’t true, but the doctor was stunned when his “son” came on the phone and appealed for help.

“Daddy, sorry. I have had a terrible car accident and a five-year-old girl is seriously hurt with head injuries. If we pay ¥2,000,000 ($16,000) to the family now, they will forgive me. If she dies, we’ll have to pay ¥5,000,000 or more. What shall we do, daddy?” The father was distraught and never thought the call was a phony.

When a lawyer got on the phone, claiming to represent his son, the doctor was nervous. When another man “confirmed” the accident from the police traffic center, the doctor tried to call his son, to no avail. He then transferred the money to the mainland Japan bank.

The father later called his son’s office in Tokyo, and was stunned to find him there. The son denied any involvement in any accident, and that the father was a victim of a cruel hoax.

The scam artists didn’t quit in this case. Hours later, another call, and another demand. The girl had died, they said, and the doctor needed to send another ¥3,000,000. The doctor began asking questions this time, but got no answer.

This is the latest in a string of such incidents being played on Okinawa residents in recent weeks. Authorities warn people not to fall victim, and to ask questions of police, and to remain calm as they investigate.

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