The Osaka Prefectural Police are urging all officers and staff members, totaling some 23,000 people in total, to install special message devices on their fixed-line telephones in an effort to prevent remittance and other kinds of fraud.

The devices, which the police developed jointly with a manufacturer, are activated so the caller hears, before the ringtone starts, a warning message lasting about 10 seconds that says the conversation will be recorded automatically.

The message is intended to intimidate scammers and, over time, have a deterrent effect on special fraud cases in which perpetrators typically use phones to trick victims into sending money via ATMs or other means.

This is the first time in Japan that police officers and staff members have been urged to install such recording devices.

The device used in Osaka can record 1,000 messages over a period of 15 hours. A display shows the proportion of calls being terminated while the message plays, to indicate the percentage of calls considered to be potential scam attempts that are being intercepted.

Recordings of calls involving fraud tactics will be made public to encourage people to be on alert.

The full retail price of the recording devices, manufactured by a company in Nagoya, is set at ¥12,800 each.

By purchasing limited-function models in bulk, the Osaka police have been able to allow officers and staff members to buy them at a cheaper price.

The officers and staff members have been urged to purchase more than one device so they can be installed in the homes of their parents or other relatives.

The police are also considering selling the devices to the general public.

In 2018, the number of bank transfer scams and other special fraud cases detected by Osaka police totaled 1,622, and the amount of money stolen in those cases totaled ¥3.5 billion.

“With special fraud remaining rampant, we’re facing an urgent need to take measures,” said Yoshikazu Kawabata, head of a police division promoting measures against special fraud. “We want to spread the initiative (of installing phone recorders) from Osaka nationwide.”

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