The National Police Agency said Thursday it received reports on 1,315 illegal remittance cases targeting online banking users last year, causing around ¥1.4 billion in damage.
In many cases, criminal groups cracked IDs and passwords of Internet banking customers by using computer viruses, secretly transferring their deposits to other accounts. In slightly under 20 percent of the cases, money was directly remitted to 17 countries outside Japan, mainly in Europe and Asia, without going through bank accounts.
The NPA started collecting the data in 2011, when 165 cases racking up a total of ¥308 million in damage were reported. The figures rose eight-fold and 4.6-fold, respectively, in the following two years.
“The increase must have come as a result of the criminal groups evolving computer viruses,” an NPA official said. “Online banking users should be cautious if they are asked to perform unusual computer operations.”
As a preventive measure, the agency provided financial institutions with information on illegally used bank accounts. As a result, more than 1,000 accounts were frozen from last August to the mid-January.