Phone fraud cases, including scams in which callers solicit money from people by impersonating a relative, netted some 28.4 billion yen last year, according to the National Police Agency.

The announcement covering so-called “remittance-soliciting” fraud was made by the agency as part of its efforts to heighten public awareness of the problem.

For December alone, the amount of financial damage increased for the first time in three months to an estimated 3.22 billion yen.

Police identified 25,667 cases of phone fraud in 2004 and pursued 1,305, or 5.1 percent of the total.

The NPA identified three methods of “remittance-soliciting” fraud as being the most common: employing the so-called “It’s me” tactic, in which someone impersonates a relative and asks for money; demanding a fictitious payment; and demanding money to guarantee fictitious loans.

Of all phone fraud cases, 14,874 involved the tactic of defrauding a victim by impersonating a relative or police officer, netting about 18.54 billion yen in financial damage.

There were 5,101 cases in which fictitious payments were demanded, worth about 5.45 billion yen, and 5,692 cases in which money was demanded to guarantee fictitious loans, which netted some 3.84 billion yen.

The monthly financial damage jumped from about 700 million yen in January to a record 2.9 billion yen by September.

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