The damage from “furikome” bank transfer scams soared to a whopping ¥2.12 billion in October, a 60 percent year-on-year jump and topping ¥2 billion for the first time since September 2008, a recent National Police Agency report shows.
Of this total, the number of so-called “It’s me” scams increased remarkably, as did schemes purporting to concern government refunds, according to the agency. A typical “It’s me” scam involves a male calling an elderly target and identifying himself as close kin, such as a grandson, asking for cash to get out of a jam. The cash is usually transferred to a designated account.
The level of scams seen in October rose 52 percent from the previous month and would translate into an annual total of some ¥25 billion.
The number of furikome scams detected stood at 693, with an average of ¥3.05 million stolen per incident — a 2.4-fold rise from the level in September 2008.
This stemmed from an increase in the number of cases in which bank transfers via ATMs are not used but money is handed by victims, the NPA explained.
People are becoming less attentive to frauds, an NPA official warned, adding the agency will renew its call for caution in light of October’s record furikome fraud.
The annual damage from furikome scams fell dramatically to about ¥9.5 billion in 2009, compared to more than ¥25 billion in each of the preceding five years, thanks to countermeasures taken by the public and private sectors.
But the figure has steadily risen since 2010, according to the NPA.