/

Amount of money stolen via phone fraud soaring

JIJI

The number of reported cases in which fraudsters use the phone to trick people into parting with cash continues to increase.

According to National Police Agency sources, the amount of cash swindled this way in the first three months of the year soared 41 percent from a year earlier to roughly ¥13 billion. That outstripped the pace seen in 2013, when the annual total came to a record high ¥48.7 billion.

As such phone scams tend to gain momentum in and after April, the agency is calling on potential victims to talk with their family members about prevention measures during the current Golden Week holiday period.

According to the agency, damage from fraud related to fictitious transactions in financial products accounted for 33 percent of the total, the largest single group, and cases were recorded nationwide.

In such cases, fraudsters typically lure victims into believing they can gain from price rises in financial products such as shares in private companies, real estate and membership rights. To lend credibility, fraudsters may send out brochures or set up links for hot topics, such as solar power generation and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“It’s me” scams, in which callers pose as relatives, police officers or other people their targets might trust, accounted for 29 percent, the second-biggest category.

In 90 percent of those cases, the fraudsters approached the victims by pretending to be sons or grandsons with financial problems, from such causes as using the funds of an employer, making a failed investment or needing to pay compensation for getting a woman pregnant.