Prefectural police from across the nation set up a joint task force Tuesday in Tokyo to deal with a sharp rise in telephone fraud.

The scams involve callers soliciting money from unsuspecting victims, often citing emergency situations involving their victims’ relatives.

The task force will investigate such cases mainly in metropolitan areas because many of the swindlers are believed to be based in Tokyo and are using bank accounts in the capital as a destination for the funds, police said.

The task force, comprising 21 officers from 21 prefectures, will try to identify such bank accounts to facilitate investigations by local police.

A typical method is the “It’s me” tactic, in which the caller, speaking on familiar terms, impersonates a relative of an elderly person and asks for money to cover the costs of an accident or some other emergency.

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