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New spate of personal fraud attempts prompts warnings

Date Posted: 2009-05-14

It’s happened before, and police say it’s happening again; con men are preying on innocent people to separate them from their money.

Okinawa Prefecture Police say there were 129 cases of fraud investigated in 2008, with individuals being ripped off more than ¥82.5 million. The swindlers are skilled in the use of email and the internet, police caution, skillfully making personal appeals and blending them with threats. Phone calls are standard with older people, while young people are being targeted via email.

The increase in fraud cases has officials issuing a set of cautions as to how the con men work, noting they are very smooth in their approaches, making their requests sound plausible. Fraudsters usually call a home or send an email saying “I’m your son and I have been in a car accident and need money. Please send ¥1 million.” The con man then gives a bank account for the transfer. A variation of the scheme is to pose as a policeman trying to help the victim’s relative.

Another scheme is to ask the victim to pay an imaginary invoice for cell phone or internet services. Yet another is to tell the victim there’s money waiting for him or her, but that they must accomplish a ‘transfer charge’ before they can have the money. One other con making the rounds is the victim being told there’s a tax refund waiting, but again, “we need you to pay us to process the money”.

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