The number of reported money-transfer frauds and the losses from them increased in the first half of 2005 from the same period last year, but total crimes, including those committed by minors, decreased for a third straight year, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

This year saw 11,567 cases of fraud — in which swindlers usually tricked people over the phone into sending money to designated bank accounts — reported between January and June, up 11.2 percent from 2004, the NPA said.

The money fraudulently being transferred into bank accounts amounted to about 11.9 billion yen, an increase of 37.5 percent from the same period last year, the agency said.

The amount of losses in money-transfer cases went down from the six-month period through last December, when the tally was around 19.7 billion yen. But agency officials said they hope to catch more swindlers as the crimes continue.

National Police Agency Commissioner General Iwao Uruma said authorities must exploit new laws and develop investigative methods to deal with offenders in money-transfer cases who are constantly devising new ways to bilk people.

“As (the offenders) get more clever, we need to be resourceful in our publicity efforts,” Uruma said.

Criminal cases reported in the first half of this year totaled 1,111,581, down 12.9 percent from the same period last year and dropping for the third year in a row, with cases for all 47 prefectures decreasing from the same period last year, the NPA said.

Child porn up

Cases of serious crimes linked to online dating services dropped sharply in the first half of the year, but alleged violations of child pornography laws jumped sharply, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

Serious offenses, including murder, robbery and child prostitution, dropped 18.2 percent to 36 cases, while child prostitution fell 19.4 percent to 299 cases, according to the agency.

Police handled 21 violations of child pornography regulations, compared with none a year earlier, the agency said.

Most of the child pornography violations stemmed from a revised child prostitution law that went into effect last July, expanding the scope of penalties to include production of pornographic images.

The number of violations of local government ordinances that ban the sale and distribution of harmful publications to minors rose 28.8 percent year on year in the January-April period to 210, the agency said.

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