The Consumer Affairs Agency is urging people to beware a growing number of investment scams capitalizing on the hoopla over the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The agency warned that more consumers are being deceived by such pitches as, “Why not buy bonds for the construction of a new Olympic stadium?” and “Share prices of Olympic-related companies will rise.”
In one case, a man in his 80s in Gunma Prefecture received a brochure in February calling on him to invest in the gold market. He then received a phone call from a man who identified himself as an official of the Japan Precious Metal Association, a dummy organization, who briefed him on the investment.
He also fielded a call from a con artist who claimed to be a reporter for a major newspaper, who told him, “You’re expected to earn a huge profit as the association was involved in Tokyo’s bid for the Olympics.”
Trusting the bogus association, the man invested ¥5 million but has received no dividend payments and now cannot get in touch with the association.
The agency said it has received more than 40 complaints about the group, and that five people in their 70s and 80s were duped out of ¥18 million in the cases.
According to the National Consumer Affairs Center, it received 190 complaints about investment fraud tied to the Tokyo Olympic Games between September last year and April. The center points to scams such as recommending the purchase of Olympics-related shares and soliciting investment in fake corporate bonds for stadium construction.
In February, the Metropolitan Police Department arrested a former executive of an investment firm on suspicion of swindling five investors out of approximately ¥14.5 million by encouraging them to buy Olympics-linked shares.
“The scams are becoming more and more sophisticated. Such cases of fraud will continue to increase, as there are many years left until the Olympics,” warned an official at the center.