NPA poll: Most firms renting mobile phones linked to crimes in Japan overlooked fake IDs

JIJI

A National Police Agency survey revealed Thursday that 89 out of 109 mobile phone rental companies in Japan whose handsets were used in crimes overlooked or blatantly disregarded fake user identification.

Police nationwide demanded the cancellation of 1,506 rental mobile phone contracts between January and June after they were found to have been used in crimes by loan sharks.

Illegal lending accounted for 1,486 contracts, a record high for a six-month period.

Of the companies involved in the 1,506 over-the-counter contracts in question, an examination of copies of IDs at 109 firms found faked documents at 81 of them.

At one rental company whose manager was arrested in May by the Iwate Prefectural Police, fake driver’s licenses accounted for 129 of the 151 license copies used to acquire the contracts. One copy indicated the holder was born in the “17th month” of the year.

“Phone rental companies are checking IDs for the sake of regulations but they appear incapable of spotting fake IDs or are (turning a blind eye),” an NPA official said.

According to the NPA, major telecommunications carriers are considering new measures to prevent mobile phones from being used in criminal activities. Possible steps include rejecting new mobile contracts by phone rental companies that police have previously accused of not screening their applicants properly.

Another NPA survey found that 36 bank accounts were opened in the first half of 2013 by businesses engaged in illegal practices. The figure was off 3 percent from the peak of 1,175 in the July-December period of 2011.