Some 58,000 police officers were mobilized at automated teller machines nationwide Wednesday in a sweeping crackdown on scams swindling elderly people out of cash.
Police say tens of thousands of elderly people have been targeted in recent years by scammers pretending to be their grandchildren or other people in need of quick money.
The National Police Agency said it deployed some 58,000 officers to patrol about 81,000 automated teller machines, or 83% of the ATMs across Japan.
The officers alerted elderly people not to transfer money hastily on unconfirmed demands.
"Today is a pension payment day, when a large amount of money is deposited into bank accounts of the elderly," Shinji Ibayashi, chief of Tokyo's Kitazawa police station, said.
"We must make utmost efforts to prevent any more harm from the bank transfer scam," he said.
In the scam -- known locally as "It's me!" fraud -- criminals tell elderly people they are their children or grandchildren and need money because they were caught in traffic accidents or in minor crimes.
When potential victims press for details, the criminal repeatedly says, "It's me, it's me!" and gives details of a bank account.
Fraudsters have extorted a total of 21.4 billion yen through "It's me" or similar scams in the eight months through August, according to police. Police have caught 346 alleged perpetrators.
New forms of the scam include telling people over the telephone they need to pay money for legal fees or for fictitious purchases of adult movies.© Wire reports
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In the photo I see a bank employee talking to the customer and the police officer leaning over and watching. It seems to me that since this bank can provide a staff member to communicate with customers all banks should be able to offer the same level of service.
To have 58,000 police officers tied up standing around doing nothing is an incredible waste of money and time! Keep this up and you'll see a spike in all crimes (except maybe bank robberies) on pension payment day ... why not? The cops are all busy watching ATMs!
or invading customers' privacy.
If I had some bumbling cop staring me down at the atm I would be very unhappy
This story raises a few questions:
Are these very clever criminals or are they scamming very stupid people?
Why are the cops doing this and not bank staff or security firms?
Did they actually catch anybody?
What exactly are they doing to stop the scam? Listening to people's telephone conversations?
Don't the cops have anything better to do?
Wouldn't an education campaign be more effective?What a complete waste of resources! Have they caught that guy that killed the little girl in Togane yet? They can deploy 58,000 cops to watch geriatrics withdraw their pensions, but can't find one animal. I guess money is more important. Ridiculous!
perfect scam: dress up like police and find an unattended atm. "mam, I'm serve to serve and protect. give me your cash and I'll deposit it into the police safe box. thank you very muck, mam"
Maybe they should merge conbinis, banks, post offices and kobans all into one?
Heard that yesterday out Saitama? some 80-year old still transferred money despite the fact that there were 2 of Japan's finest standing next to him. Apparently the victim was not using a mobile phone, so the cops didn't do anything. The other possibility is the cops nipped off to McDonalds as soon as "show and tell" for the media had finished.
What an absolute waste of resources. Then again this whole scam (having cops on duty) is tied closely to the coming election. The message to the gray ghosts is going to be that the LDP "cares for old people." Moreover, because of Alzheimers, many of these folks will believe this COS.
Wouldn't an education campaign be more effective?
Nope. They OreOre scam has been extensively covered in the media, in local community meetings and by banks posting warnings for years.
They are simply stupid individuals who fall for some slippery-tongued scam artists.
My question is this though. If Japan is so concerened about scams why not prevent the cement companies ie. yakuza fronts, from paving the countryside as we know it?
I saw these officers over the past two days as I did some transactions. They werent staring me down or standing over my shoulder. They were standing outside the bank....standing. Now Im a young foreigner so obviously they`re not going to expect me to fall for the scam but I must believe that when they saw elderly citizens walk by they gave a word of warning.
In a word, useless. Its simply meant to deter the scam artists since theyre showing a presence. Typical of Japan to shove the problem under the carpet as opposed to taking it by the horns. But, its not my country and Im not one of them so I dont think its my right to tell them how they should waste their time and money.
wouldn't a sign on the atm be sufficient? then the 58,000 could be put to actually catching some criminals.
Great target for a crackdown, 346 perps apprehended? Thats a big number, any relation to each other??
I got a solution, give the old people debit cards. Let's use the technology at Narita airport, the fingerprint scanner. Let the old person scan their thumb print. If it matches they get the money. Set the max limit to 50,000 yen. If they need more, they have to speak to a bank representative on the phone. If they need more. The old person has to give more information in why they need more money. If they give money to a friend/family member/prostitute/or whatever. They have to push a yes/no button for the waiver. 58,000 police is not necessary, the banks should do a better job policing the money.
These is a really stupid problem, that the Japanese government needs to address. Maybe 5,000 cops will be out there, not 58,000.
Protection just on pension day? Why not securing ATMs every day? While cops will be dancing around ATM machines crooks will target other venues to get hold of money. This should not be publshed and kept secret, this way they will catch more 'scumbags. Technology brought crimes to the world, and to finance instituions wealth.
Banks should find a way to eliminate inactive accounts. Apparently, bank cards and accounts can be purchased on the internet! BANNING their sale might be a good place to start.
Nah, the image of doing something is always more important than actually doing something over here. Announcing a huge number of cops out there makes it look like they are cracking down, when its really just a waste of manpower, time, money.
wrong solution to an endemic problem of lack of love and care for the elderly.
Look at the positive side: It is a good day to ride a bicycle, with all the cops guarding ATMs.
There are actually signs and campaigns all over the place on ATMs, and if you haven't noticed them, what are the chances that the aged would? A personal/human touch is a great idea but as always, the issue lies in execution of the plan.
This type of scam is not just a problem in Japan but I bet everywhere. An elderly couple in my hometown back in my country fell for it just last month.
Tenkiishi is quite right.The Japanese are naive,so they are most likely to believe anyone.
That's slanderous!! They ain't so naive!! The elderly forget things,they panic and they worry-fret!!!!!!!! The NPA should make it illegal to sell used bank accounts over the internet,as a start!! They probably want to impress the only section of the populace that has any respect for them-the elderly.
Despite strong presence of police force, four cases of fraud took place yesterday (source: NHK)
I hope there will less of them riding around on them bikes pulling people over.
There have also been reports on the news of the police managing to prevent people from making transfers to criminals, so it's not all a complete waste of time. These days a popular tactic by the scam artists is to call people and tell them they owe money for taxes or insurance premiums- they are getting a bit more sophisticated than just calling and claiming to be a family member.
Damn they actually caught people... that number is massive most likely all yakuza.
58,000?? Whatever! someone is talking porkie pies here.. So, they are saying that there are 18,000 more cops stationed for this than the APEC summit?? bollox!
58 000 cops... 50 for a naked spanish grandpa, 30 for a monkey in Shibuya (still at large btw)? Coudl anyone enlighten me about the NPA*s proportionality doctrine? And about their legendary efficiency?
Depends on what you mean by efficiency.
There are approximately 1.81 cops/1,000 people in Japan. 19.177 crimes per 1,000 people.
I could name a few developed nations that have more cops per capita coupled with more crimes per capita but I'm sure people will make a conclusion that "more crimes are committed hence more cops." But on the flip side, one can also conclude that Japanese people commit less crimes which is like giving "credit" to the Japanese society. And of course, that's a big no no here.
This ATM campaign is here to reassure Obaasan. And that*s all fine. Everyone is happy; also this might the new J-Cop pastime,after checking if any DPRK spy would have hijacked bycicles.