The National Police Agency said Thursday that 750 people under 20 years old were involved in furikome (bank transfer) scams last year, up 57.9 percent from the previous year.
Of the minors, 76.4 percent received cash from fraud victims by hand, and 9.7 percent worked to recruit new members of fraud groups, according to a survey by the agency.
Furikome scams originally referred to cases of forcing targets, usually elderly people, to transfer money by pretending to be their children or others on the phone, but the term now includes cases where victims deliver cash by hand.
Following a surge in the involvement of minors in such scams in recent years, the police are stepping up prevention measures including gathering information on juvenile delinquents who may be invited to join criminal groups.
On a whole, the number of minors involved in crimes in 2018 fell to 23,489, the lowest level since the end of World War II, reflecting a drop in those facing theft charges, which had accounted for some 60 percent of offenses by minors.
But the number of minors involved in white-collar crimes, including furikome scams, jumped 28.5 percent to 1,155. Of the minors involved in furikome scams, 612 were between 17 and 19 years old. Nine 14-year-olds were involved in such cases, the youngest age recorded.
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