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The number of “ore-ore” (“It’s me”) fraud cases recorded by the National Police Agency surged 44.5 percent in 2010 from a year earlier to 4,418, with victims swindled out of a combined ¥7.92 billion, the agency said Thursday.

Such frauds generally entail a swindler telephoning the intended mark, usually an elderly person, and speaking in familiar terms like a close relative, hence the “it’s me, it’s me,” and claiming to be in a jam and needing quick cash and providing ways for money to be transferred to a stranger’s account. Some swindlers identify themselves as police or bank officials, seeking some sort of cooperation.

Total bank-transfer swindles, including “It’s me” fraud cases, fell 9.6 percent to 6,637 with losses amounting to ¥10.09 billion, the agency said.

Annual fraud losses associated with bank-transfer scams have been declining since 2009 after amounting to more than ¥25 billion from 2004 to 2008. In 2009, such losses fell by two-thirds from 2008.

But the agency’s data showed the number of recorded “It’s me” fraud cases bounced back in 2010.

The agency noted the cases recorded in 2010 included 1,333 in which fraudsters identified themselves as police or bank officials to defraud people of cash cards and then using the cards to withdraw savings.

The grifters typically phone people to tell them their cash cards must be replaced by new cards as their accounts are being abused by someone. Victims are then told officials will come to collect their cards in order to reissue new ones.

In 2010, police arrested 686 bank-transfer bilkers, down 28.2 percent from 2009, including 151 who passed themselves off as cops or bankers.

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