SENDAI – Cases of fraud involving swindlers pretending to be relatives of victims continue to rise, with the amount of money defrauded topping a record ¥40 billion in the nine-month period through the end of September, police said.
A new type of “ore-ore” (It’s me, it’s me) scam has surfaced in recent months, in which swindlers ask seniors in the countryside to come to Tokyo with cash.
These “jokyo” (coming to the capital) fraudsters — who often pretend to be family members in urgent need of cash — phone older people living in rural areas asking them to come to Tokyo and hand over cash to someone.
A man in his 70s from Sendai received a phone call on Nov. 5 from an imposter pretending to be his 40-something son and asked him to come to Tokyo Station with ¥13 million to cover losses from a business failure, the Metropolitan Police Department said.
Assuming the imposter to be his son, the father took a shinkansen bound for Tokyo the same day. But his real son got wind of the attempted fraud and rushed to a police station in Shinagawa Ward at around 4 p.m. Later in the day, officers from the Saitama Prefectural Police, contacted by Tokyo police, met the train at JR Omiya Station, where they found the father, notifying him of the plot.
Although the father was carrying his wife’s cellphone, the son could not reach him as the swindler had told the father not to answer any calls, police said.
The police estimate that the amount of money defrauded will hit a record high this year, led by the ore-ore scam, which stood at ¥12.5 billion between January and September. About 80 percent of the victims are people in their 60s or older.
To prevent jokyo frauds, the police have asked Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) to display warnings on Tokaido Shinkansen Line trains from Oct. 18 to Nov. 3.
A senior police officer said that most of the fraudster groups are based in the Tokyo area, adding that police are working to step up cooperation with regional departments to prevent the scams from spreading further.