crime

70-year-old woman defrauded of Y20 million

68 Comments

A 70-year-old woman in Tokyo has become the latest to be defrauded of money in a bank transfer scam, police said Saturday.

Police say the woman, a resident of Machida, was called by a man claiming to be her son on March 29 at around 1 p.m., TV Asahi reported. The man told her he had left a bag on a train containing a check and that he needed her to help him raise the money to replace it.

According to investigators, the woman emptied her bank account, withdrawing 20 million yen, which she took home. At around 4 p.m., a man wearing a suit claiming to be her son's coworker came to the house to collect the money, TV Asahi reported.

The fraud was discovered later that evening when she telephoned her son.

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68 Comments
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was called by a man claiming to be her son

She does not recognize her sons own voice after 70 years ?

a man wearing a suit claiming to be her son’s coworker came to the house to collect the money

and you give 20 million yen to a complete stranger?

Wow she is very naive and will believe just anybody or pain foolish. Feel sorry for her you know.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

I thought when older people tried to withdraw more than one million the bank asked them about it?

15 ( +15 / -1 )

The bank probably thought about it for a moment, but then changed it's mind out of fear of being scolded by its customer.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

telephone your son FIRST. i know a lot of people who have received these calls and the smart ones always call their kids before they do anything. common sense.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

If I'm the son I am placing a big part of the blame on the doorstep of the bank. There is no way a 70 plus old lady, or man for that matter, walks into my bank, alone, withdraws over $200,000.00 in cash. And walks out alone.

Think about that 20 million in yen, one stack of bills alone stacked up would be probably over 1 foot high. And the bank let her clean out her account without talking to her about it?

This is screwed up big time. Yeah Grannie is at fault too for no common sense, yet I do believe that the bank is more at fault for not following it's own rules.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

edited.....the stack of bills alone.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

why did the bank do nothing, or even suggest calling the son on the lady's behalf if she didn't think about it?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

or even refuse the transaction?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Bank employees, like most of the people I know here, are just simple plebes running on auto-pilot. Incapable of having or acting on genuine thoughts that are not already pre-programmed . The old woman included.

S

5 ( +11 / -6 )

Stupidity on so many levels.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The people above seem to expect an employee at a bank to exercise critical thought. Come on, now folks - you've been here long enough to know that's improbable. Probably against company policy.

-3 ( +11 / -13 )

Always appears to have been done by some sophisticated gang. However, it's long been known, by those that have two or more brain cells to rub together, that these scams are coordinated inside jobs...

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

**If I'm the son I am placing a big part of the blame on the doorstep of the bank

Why? Why not blame the people who defrauded granny and granny for being so silly? There have been many, many warning about this kind of thing for well over 10 years. Why not blame the son for not talking to his mother about these kinds of scams? It isn't the bank's job to question every single person who takes out large sums of money - more so in a cash based society that is so slow to to use credit cards, debit... Where taking out large chucks of cash, more so for the ages, is normal.

As it is now, have any of you tried to take out a large sum or transfer a large sum of money recently? As a foreigner, it is a nightmare. And frankly, none of their business what I am doing with my money. Same in this case. It isn't their job to foil these cases. Leave that to the police! Ha!

-11 ( +5 / -16 )

Sorry for sounding insensitive, but I'm starting to lose sympathy for this type of victim, simply because of the massive publicity that this particular scam has received in Japan. Is it possible that she has never heard of this "ore ore" scam or that none of her relatives have ever warned her? If that is the case, then she definitely deserves our sympathy, but if she had heard / been told of this scam before, then, in my opinion, she is partially responsible for her loss.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I think the woman is sick. Because a 70 year old Japanese woman is not that too old not recognize the voice of her own son.

Well, another part of my brain is suspicious of the son. There is a possibility that the son played a part in scamming the mother...!!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

This isn't a bank transfer scam as the money was withdrawn as cash and handed to a stranger.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Naive, Dumb,Stupid,yeh that sums it up...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Look at the bank I frequent I have personally seen an employee who has only one job, helping customers with ATM transactions, literally ask an elderly lady about a wire transfer she was sending to someone. Banks here now only allow transactions via wire transfer of up to 100, 000 yen, and this woman assisted the elderly woman and insured that she got her transaction correct.

It's a poor bank that allows any elderly person to individually withdraw that much money without asking questions at least about the safety of the person involved.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

more so in a cash based society that is so slow to to use credit cards,

Are you so sure? My son had his Japanese "family-credit card" copied (while travelling abroad) and my account was supposed to have been debited for 800.000 yen... If we hadn't been able to prove he had left the UK before the transaction, I would have lost 800.000 yen - which I didn't have in the first place!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

70 years old, sittin' on a bundle, saving for old age.

Then, just give it away...

She should have considered choice B:

A world cruise, resorts, spa treatments, and a shopping extravaganza!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

We have daily announcements broadcast in Zoshigaya on the loud speaker telling people NOT to do exactly what that woman did.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

yep "common sense" seems to be lacking alot in this country.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Weasel and Spidey bring up good points. Dog forbid you'd ever, ever, tell or even suggest to a "kyakusama" what to do. Okoreruyo...

These frauds say something about this society: They say that family connections are pretty messed up if you can't recognize that the person claiming to be your son is not your son. They say that this "cash is king" society is asking to be defeauded and it says that the supposed politeness and couteousness is, under the veneer of tatemae, practically non existant.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It would be funny if the Grandma and the Son were taking it to the next level by scamming everybody with a scam. What a great excuse....I thought it was my son......Of course and suddenly everybody believes it...ha....ha..ha!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

do you have any idea how many red flag it would raise if you tried to take $200,000 in CASH out of ANY bank in the world. Banks WANT your money. Banks WANT your money in their bank so they can invest and make their own intrest off of it. It is in the THEIR best intrest to ask why are you taking out 200,000 in CASH. It is not like you can go to an ATM and do that. How many banks do you think have THAT much liquid cash sitting around that they can just stack it up hand to a 70 year old lady and not ask why. When I pay my rent it goes throug no less than 2 people at the bank. $200k in CASH probably had to be OKed by 10 different people. Not one of them thought to simply inquire. I mean really? when do you EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER need 20 million yen in cash?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

She has every right to withdraw all her money if she wants to. Even if the bank did ask questions, she probably would have made up a reason so as to protect her son whom she really thought was in trouble. But, yes, that this still seems to happen is a bit of a worry. Apparently the con artists are very good at sounding a bit unclear but stressed on the phone so that makes parents go into I-have-to-help-my-kid mode (even if the 'kid' is 40 years old or more). They also tend to tell the person being conned not to call back for whatever reason. So I think you have to remember that if someone is convinced it is his/her offspring in trouble, they will go to extremes to help. Parents of doctors also get targeted with con artists saying that their son (or daughter) killed a patient by prescribing the wrong medicine etc. If these con artists call 30 people a day, for example, they are bound to find someone gullible enough sooner or later. 'You can fool some of the people all the time', rings a bell!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Man, I would thought after so many reports of "ore ore" scams in the news, even the last old lady would have heard about them. But it just keeps going on... maybe a mandatory cash withdrawal limit for everybody over 60 would be in order?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Even though there has been lots of publicity about this type of scam, I do feel sorry for the old lady for several reasons. First, let's face it, at 70 years old, she probably isn't as sharp as she was when she was younger. Maybe she wasn't that bright when she was younger to begin with, but does that mean she should be bilked out her life savings?

Secondly, these con artists are good at what they do. They are convincing and have reasons/excuses for every possibility you can imagine. I'm sure that the old lady felt that the caller didn't sound like her son, but I can also imagine they had several excuses possibly even telling her beforehand such as I have a cold, or I'm stressed out. Also, they were probably talking fast leaving her no time to think about the situation. I've heard these scams played out before and one of the key ingredients is that everything is of utmost urgency.

Lastly, I'm sure she wasn't the first target. She was probably the first of 20, 50, 100? people to take the bait. These guys just play the averages. They call until they get someone who starts believing them and they are very skillful at determining how much money they can get right away.

I think it's terrible that some people have no compassion for these victims. They do NOT deserve this to happen. They are not being greedy, but they are being gullible and naive. I also think that while it's no one's fault except for the criminals, we should do everything we can to avoid this happening to people we know, especially family members. Keep in touch with your family, especially the older and more trusting members. Let them know NOT to give away money to people they don't know regardless of the circumstances.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's a poor bank that allows any elderly person to individually withdraw that much money without asking questions at least about the safety of the person involved.

No it isn't. It is a poor society that prays on older victims. It is a bit silly to take out that much money and not even contact you son about it. It is not a banks job to ask what people are using the cash for. And you don't know this women needed help with the cash machine. Easily done on her own. The withdrawal limits (or lack there of) shocked me when I first came but considering lots of people take cash out from one account/bank and put it into a another to save transfer fees, it isn't a surprise. Not to mention paying for cars in cash, rent in cash... The banks have no business asking what things are for - and I told them that a few weeks ago when they asked me when I was doing a transfer.

Are you so sure? My son had his Japanese "family-credit card" copied (while travelling abroad) and my account was supposed to have been debited for 800.000 yen... If we hadn't been able to prove he had left the UK before the transaction, I would have lost 800.000 yen - which I didn't have in the first place!

Um, yes. I am pretty sure this country is light years behind many other countries when it comes to using debt (have never ever seen a cash card direct to your bank account debit like "back home") and credit cards. Just the other day I went to Kintentsu to buy a train ticket. No cards allowed. A major train line that doesn't take cards. There are indeed plenty of places that take cards - and train cards - but still plenty more than cash is the only way.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Preys, damn it.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

japan: the collective naiveté here is astounding. 11 years here and I'm still shocked by how naive these people are. my wife was one of them, but now she's a bit more exposed and worldly.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

She does not recognize her sons own voice after 70 years ?

This says a lot about Japan. Not just this one incident, but that it keeps happening.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

More 'only in Japan' 'this says a lot about Japan' 'shows how naive they are' etc etc. The ones who don't know what 's going on seem to be our dear readers. This type of scam, the exact same scam 'Mom! (Grandma!) it's me! I'm in trouble!' is being played out in the US and Europe as well. It's not only in Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I don't care whether you're elderly or not. If you're dumb enough to give away your entire fortune after all of the "ore ore" fraud warnings, without verifying who's on the line FIRST, then you have no hope! Sad day for you!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Just ask one question!!! What's your name?? How are my grand kids? ANYTHING!!!!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I took out 7 million yen a year back, and not one person questioned me. Were they suppose to? I do not know. Would have preferred a check but they do not do that here and the bank to bank transfer was a total rip off.

I hope she gets her money back. Cops looking for any big deposits recently in that area?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Mirai Hayashi

the victim of a crime, any crime is not wrong even if they acted in some stupid way.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

And you don't know this women needed help with the cash machine.

You can not make a withdraw for that amount from any cash machine in Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There is a possibility that the son played a part in scamming the mother...!!

Obviously no need for that if she was willing to hand him her entire life savings - clearly all he needed to do was ask!

Im also annoyed with the bank for not querying this - but not surprised either. I am annoyed with the son for clearly not discussing the possibility of this happening with his Mother and working out a "password" or something, and I am furious with the b$%###&$ who have scammed an old lady. I reserve judgement on the stupidity of the old lady because she may be sick or infirm. But you know - sad as it is that we read about this on a weekly basis, in the UK grannies are beaten up for the last 10 quid in their purse on a weekly basis. That is more shocking to me.

-5 ( +1 / -5 )

Ive heard about other (re: uncivilized) countries where to "earn" a wad of cash you have to kidnap some rich guy or his wife or kid, organize a group of armed guys to grab the victim, then maybe cut off an ear and mail it to the family, etc... This takes lots of time and money, and the risk of getting caught, and maybe executed. But since Japan has 4 seasons, or special DNA, or whatever its much easier and cost-effective. What a great country we live in!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Tsk.tsk.tsk.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

am i reading that right? 20 million yen? thats like $240,000... how did the bank even let her withdraw that kind of money on such short notice. Someone tell me I'm reading that wrong :/

0 ( +1 / -1 )

They have been running the same scam to the elderly in the US for years. Usually they claim its a grand-child being arrested abroad and he needs money to get out of jail. I hate these sick scammers taking advantage of the elderly population.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The banks are not to blame. It's her money and if she wants to take it out, she can. Imagine if you show up at the bank and wanted to pull out, why is it the bank's business why you are taking out your own cash. Yet the same people who criticize the banks also criticize more government oversight on people. You can't have one or the other. Any case we don't know the details, maybe she said she was closing her account. But in the end, it's jack business what the bank wants to know what I"m doing with my money or why I'm taking it out.

What should of happened was the grandmother should of called her son BEFORE she took out the cash.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Yet the same people who criticize the banks also criticize more government oversight on people.

No not at all. I agree it's her money BUT the banks HERE have a policy to inquire, particularly with the elderly, regarding large cash withdraw's to hopefully help prevent scams like this one.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well where I'm from you can't walk in and withdraw over 10,000 dollars in cash without giving the bank at least 24 hours notice. So walking into a bank and withdrawing over 200,000 dollars just wouldn't happen.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

the victim of a crime, any crime is not wrong even if they acted in some stupid way.

I COMPLETELY disagree. If I left a suitcase full of money out in the street and someone took it, it's not my fault? Don't think so. Victims of crimes who do not take proper precautions (ESPECIALLY in situations like this) are just inviting crime to happen. You have to always take a reasonable amount of precautions to make sure that the person you are talking to is really who they say they are (especially when they are asking for a A LOT of money). And to give the money to a complete stranger who shows up at your door just compounds the naivety.

There have been awareness campaign after awareness campaign after awareness campaign about these types of crimes that target the elderly. My 85 year old grandmother knows about these types of crimes and gives me the third degree every time I call her.

Sorry but if you are too oblivious to what's going on in the world that you'd give away your entire fortune to some stranger without even asking a SINGLE QUESTION to verify their identity, then its really a sad for you.

As Bush once said, "There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." ...well apparently not!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Badge 213:

" Yet the same people who criticize the banks also criticize more government oversight on people. "

Not at all. A law requiring banks to set a cool-off period for suspicious withdrawals like this would be a law to protect people from harming themselves. And we have plenty of laws like that already. Think seatbelt laws, anti-smoking laws, drug laws, what have you.

And in light of the on-going scamming of elderly victims, this withdrawal law would make a heck of a lot more sense than many of the other intrusive laws that we have already.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

So if the government set up a law, are companies going to have to abide by that? Mind you, I doubt smart companies use Japanese banks as the interest is pretty much zero and well, their practices leave a lot to be desired - still can't do online international transactions with the banks I use.

-11 ( +0 / -11 )

I took out 7 million yen a year back, and not one person questioned me. Were they suppose to? I do not know. Would have preferred a check but they do not do that here and the bank to bank transfer was a total rip off. I hope she gets her money back. Cops looking for any big deposits recently in that area?

Agreed, checks are pretty handy, but this is a cash-based society. I have a big deposit for you.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

tmarie,

we are not talking about international transactions here. We are talking about obaasans emptying their Japanese bank accounts to hand over their life-savings to some scum who pretended to be their grandsons.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Will, I am talking about banking, period. They can't start a rule that state they can question the everyday persons without asking questions to large companies. That isn't fair. Why should I be questioned about what I am doing with my money while others are not. Either make it a blanket rule or none at all. If anyone is abusing this system, it isn't the petty thieves, it is the large companies. IF the government wants to start checks, they need to starting asking questions for everyone. Personally, no questions. If people are able to get off their butts, head to a bank and ask for their life savings, they should be intelligent enough to call their son to ask if it was him that called.

-15 ( +0 / -15 )

You mean to tell me, that the bank has no idea who received the money, who was at the other end of that "Wire-Transfer"...? Are Japanese banks that incompetent...? I can't imagine she transferred the kind money outside of Japan, that quickly, with no paper-trail. She would physically have to come into the bank, and fill out a small stack of paper-work, and it wouldn't be instantaneous, it would take at least 24 (probably 72) hours for transfer to go through. That's if she was transferring the money to say, a place where she definitely would never see it again, Oh, say, Nigeria.

Anywhere you go in Japan (in a bank or near an ATM), you've got 10 surveillance camera's. Unless the guy came to her door, and she handed him her ATM card and password, I cannot imagine how incompetent the J-Cops would have to be, to not be able to unravel this thing in a few hours...

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

70 isn't even that old. She is just dumb and now she learned her lesson. If she ever saves that kind of money again she will know better.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

am i reading that right? 20 million yen? thats like $240,000... how did the bank even let her withdraw that kind of money on such short notice. Someone tell me I'm reading that wrong :/

I completely agree, there's a lot of information missing from this story... When you transfer money, furikomi, there has to be an account at the other end of the transfer. That money didn't just disappear, somebody owns that account. Now whether it belongs to a Yakaza affiliated person, and hence that's why the J-Cops won't do anything, is another matter, then it's a pure J-Cop malfeasance.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

You mean to tell me, that the bank has no idea who received the money, who was at the other end of that "Wire-Transfer"...? ...Unless the guy came to her door, and she handed him her ATM card and password, I cannot imagine how incompetent the J-Cops would have to be, to not be able to unravel this thing in a few hours...

You mean to tell me, you make that kind of scathing comment without bothering to read the article? There was no bank transfer. There was no small stack of paperwork. The money did not go out of Japan. It did not take 24 or 72 hours. The whole scam took 3 hours from start to finish.

The silly biddy withdrew cash, took it home and handed it to a total stranger. Apart from the bank allowing her to withdraw that much money all at once (Don't most banks have a limit on what can be withdrawn in cash in any one day?), the blame surely lies with the old fool who illustrated the proverb by being so easily parted from her money.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I can't imagine she transferred the kind money outside of Japan,

She didn't. And if she had attempted to, she might have been grilled about where the money is going because banks in Japan have been told to grill anyone doing an international transfer. I did one about a month ago and had to go to the bloody bank three times because they needed so much information - that is none of their business. Why? They are trying to stop money going to... North Korea.

-13 ( +1 / -14 )

I hope the criminals are caught. They are certainly guilty.

Having said that, how does a women like this even manage to save ¥20 million (not an easy task). I am guessing that she either inherited it, or she has seen nbetter days intellectually (perhaps has dementia now). Just wondering here...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Socking away all of her husband's salary without him knowing I would guess.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

Thank you cleo!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I've withdrawn 13 million yen in the past to put a down payment on my house. If the banks are doing their jobs, believe me, it's not an easy process. A lot of hanko pressing, and questions, followed by the counting...six or seven people doing verification after verification. And 20 million yen is not like something you can put in your purse and walk out the door with; we had to have 3 or 4 people help us carry it out for us in multiple bags.

Bottom line is YES, banks should do checks for cash being withdrawn in excess of 5 million IMHO. There could be a crime in progress (extortion, armed robbery, etc), or she could simply be senile. If the bank did these checks, it could be the victim's last ditch effort to get help. If the person withdrawing that much cash is over 70, then the bank SHOULD ask what the purpose is. And if she says that its to give to her troubled son, they could have easily stepped in and told her that it could be fraud and to have the police verify it first.

But ultimately the victim has no one to blame but herself. SHE needs to have her son's number and call him to verify what's happening is legit.

One last point, even it it were really her son, I wouldn't give that much money to a son who doesn't keep in regular contact, to the point where I don't recognize his voice or know his number....too much naivety here.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Mirai Hayashi:

" And 20 million yen is not like something you can put in your purse and walk out the door with; we had to have 3 or 4 people help us carry it out for us in multiple bags. "

What?? If you demand it in 1000-yen notes, perhaps, otherwise absolutelly not. 20 million would be shape of a couple of bricks.... easy enough for anybody to carry out in a shopping bag, including the old lady in the article. What are you talking about?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

WilliB

Trust me, 20M yen is not a couple of bricks, unless they are some big bricks ..2M yen maybe...20 million is a couple of high stacks. I've done it before so I know!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bank employees, like most of the people I know here, are just simple plebes running on auto-pilot. Incapable of having or acting on genuine thoughts that are not already pre-programmed . The old woman included. Totally agree how stupid people are japanese people for some things like robotooo

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Mirai Hayashi;

" Trust me, 20M yen is not a couple of bricks, unless they are some big bricks ..2M yen maybe...20 million is a couple of high stacks. I've done it before so I know! "

"Trust" is good, verification is better. I have been handing over 6 million yen stacks at the bank every year (Intl school for 3 kids) every year for years, so I know what that "stack" looks like. 20 million is about 3 times that. Trust me, it is no problem for an elderly lady to carry that, if she can carry a handbag,

Again, I can only assume you got your 20 million in 1000 yen bills. That, of course, would be a bundle.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Willb

Of course, they were 10,000 yen notes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You mean to tell me, that the bank has no idea who received the money, who was at the other end of that "Wire-Transfer"...? Are Japanese banks that incompetent...?

A bank account wasn't used in this case, but in these scams where they do use an account and do a cash machine transfer, they close out the account as soon as the money hits it...they don't use the same account twice.

tmarie, perhaps you haven't tried to do an international transfer the other way around, but other countries are as big a PITA about transfers as Japan is. My mother got grilled by her bank in the US when she tried to wire money to our son for a graduation present, the American bank called me to confirm where the money was going and what it was for, and then the Japanese bank called when the money arrived and they asked me questions. It's all a part of the anti-terror measures since 9/11 and a big campaign against money laundering started a few years ago.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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