Frauds, particularly those involving remittances, between January and June are up 36 percent from a year earlier and the amount people have been bilked out of has hit a record ¥21.167 billion, National Police Agency data revealed Thursday.
The figure exceeds ¥100 million per day on average over the six months.
In most cases, perpetrators use mobile phones to avoid direct contact with their victims.
A common scam, known as the “it’s me” fraud, accounts for ¥7.2 billion of the amount swindled, up 52 percent. In these scams, perpetrators phone their victims, usually elderly people, and claim to either be a close young relative in some kind of financial bind in need of quick cash, or someone close to such kin, seeking a transfer of funds.
Billing frauds meanwhile more than tripled to ¥2.4 billion, while ¥800 million was swindled in refund frauds, double the figure from a year before.
Fraud involving fictitious financial investments accounted for ¥8.4 billion, down 2 percent.
By area, 78 percent of the money stolen through “it’s me” scams was in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures, while 41 percent stolen through refund frauds was in the Kansai region, including Osaka.
The number of people charged in special fraud cases totaled 830 in the six months, up 24 percent from a year earlier.
Of the total, 582 were low-level yakuza, while 40 were seen as the masterminds of the crimes.