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National Police Agency: Number of ‘special fraud’ cases jumps in ’17

Ryota Kato
Ryota Kato allegedly posed as a police officer in swindling a woman in her 50s out of her bank cards (Twitter)

TOKYO (TR) – The number of so-called “special fraud” cases, in which a person is swindled over the telephone, detected in Japan rose by nearly 30 percent in 2017 over the year before, the National Police Agency (NPA) revealed on Thursday, reports the Asahi Shimbun (Feb. 8).

According to the agency, the number of cases rose to 18,201 in 2017, an increase of 28.6 percent over the year before. The latter figure represents the seventh straight annual increase. Total losses to the scammers, however, dropped by 4.3 percent to roughly 39.03 billion yen over the same period.

In the majority of the cases, the elderly are targeted in the scams, with the fraudsters posing as their children on the telephone and requesting money. Last year, persons aged 65 or older represented 72.3 percent of the victims, the NPA said.

The total number of cases for 2017 was a not a record. In 2004, the NPA recorded a record 25,667 cases. In the years following, the number steadily declined until 2010, when it began to rise again.

Woman in Niigata Prefecture lost 220 million yen

As far as regions, the number of cases and the amount of damage rose in 16 administrative districts with large populations, including Tokyo, Kanagawa and Fukuoka prefectures. Meanwhile, both figures declined significantly in five remote prefectures, such as Aomori and Miyazaki, according to the NPA.

On a per-fraud basis, the the average dropped by 26.3 percent to roughly 2.27 million yen. A woman in her 70s in Niigata City, Niigata Prefecture suffered the largest recorded loss of 220 million yen.

Posed as police officer

In related news, Tokyo Metropolitan Police last week announced the arrest of Ryota Kato, the 37-year-old president of a real estate firm, for posing as a police officer in allegedly swindling a woman in her 50s out of three bank cards in October of last year.

In carrying out the ruse, the suspect told the woman that it was possible that a third-party was abusing her bank account. After obtaining the three cards, he withdrew 1.8 million yen in cash.

Police suspect that Kato is the leader of a fraud ring that used similar methods in obtaining more than 300 bank cards between May and October last year. Total losses to the ring are estimated at 80 million yen, police said.