Japan Today

73-year-old woman conned out of Y15 mil in 'ore-ore' scam


Police said Thursday that a 73-year-old woman was conned out of 15 million yen in an "ore-ore" scam in Saitama.

“Ore ore” (it's me, it's me) scams involve con artists calling an elderly person, claiming to be a relative in trouble and requesting that money be transferred to them immediately.

According to police, the woman received a phone call on Wednesday from a man claiming to be her nephew, NTV reported. The man told the woman that he lost a bag which contained a 30 million yen check from his company and asked her if she could lend him half the amount while his boss' wife would cover the other half.

Police said the woman believed his story, gathered 15 million yen in cash from her safety deposit box and handed it to a man who identified himself as the son of her nephew's boss at JR Omiya Station.

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Sorry...no compassion from me anymore. You should have known by now.

8 ( +12 / -6 )

This isn't even a con -- it's just plain old stupidity. If you fall for this after nearly ten years of warnings, including a warning on the ATM screens when you want to send a transfer, you're a moron.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

It's just crazy that this woman (and other victims) have so much money to gather! These con artists really do their homework as far as finding their victims.

These people, if not calling their family members to confirm, should call the police to escort them to the drop off location. I mean, gathering money is one thing. Handing off to someone you don't even know is absurd!! Give the police something to do.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

If she genuinely has dementia or Alzheimer's I am sympathetic. Otherwise stupid is as stupid does.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The "solution" is to have real family relationships in which you talk to and meet your relatives regularly, so if you do become senile or whatever, they know to keep an eye on you/savings. Moreover if I had 15 million sitting about I would give it to my children and grandchildren, so I could see them using/enjoying it.

What is the point of hoarding 15 million yen like this, if you are just going to give it away as easily as this? Enjoy the cash or share it before you kick the bucket.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

@ bgaudry: Very excellent! It like I have said since I have been here in Japan, I have seen families not spend time or at least keep in touch with relatives. It's like they only wait until a funeral to get together. Not even for weddings, with the custom of buying an expensive gift for the couple, and then the couple in turn having to repay that gift with another expensive gift, it would seem that it is better (cheaper) to just keep everyone at arms length.

But stil this is a problem. I wonder how they knew she would be able to give up that much money. I imagine that this must be an insider job. I don't think every 73 year old has that much money just laying around.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

73 is not that old to have common sense. She might have a disorder.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Ms. Alexander

These con artists really do their homework as far as finding their victims.

No wonder they haven't tried to call me !

4 ( +4 / -0 )

So she gets 15mil yen and gives it to a stranger who says he's her son's bosses nephew? I squirted water from my nose when I read this. This is hilarious. Lol.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Its really mind boggling how gullible some people. 15M yen! That's not small change! I wouldn't even give that away to my own son until I'm dead, let alone a nephew.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

It is stupid beyond reason, but one of the nice things about Japan and the Japanese is how so many people are so honest and trusting. It's one of the great things about living in Japan. It's sad that, with economic downturn, the lowlife start to show themselves and prey on this kindness. I hate to say it, but I guess it wasn't what it was after all...

These scum want castrating.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I am not sure why the lady didn't try to call other relatives and ask if this situation is true. But this just shows what I have seen here in Japan, family relations don't really have much to do with one another. I guess you can say that it not just a Japan thing but the world over, but then when you have a society like Japan, that somewhat looks down on things like adoption since the baby will not be a direct "blood relative." Yet, this emphasis on "blood relations" doesn't equate to close communications and at least knowing your relatives and seeing each other once in awhile. Japan is interesting at times.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

No bank transaction trail this time, these crooks are getting sneakier now! Any chance the security cameras got a good glimpse of this lowlife???

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It was mentioned in the news that from the time when you are in your mid-70s your brain changes and at that age people are more susceptible to being tricked like this. I have a private student who is a day-time care staff and she is worried sick about seniors in her area (or I guess any senior for that matter) falling for a phone scam. It's not just "It's me". She mentioned there is a big problem with C.O.D. scams where they "order" something and are tricked into paying and manipulated about it over the phone.

Some advice maybe? Maybe learn to play mind games and pretend to agree. Get the cops in on it and have them arrested (this has happened with clever "victims" in Japan). Bring these people down.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A nephew? I would have wished him good luck in finding a new job and repaying the money. Then I would have asked him about getting the money from his mother and father.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is an interesting case in some ways,

Its clearly pretty silly to give someone that sort of money without more clearly identifying them or the requirement first, that being said having had a Grandfather who was a little forgetful and confused I could see how this might happen.

Surely the bank, if a bank was involved, should be protecting its elderly customers a bit better, I know that its a fine balance between privacy and protection but at 70 something year person taking out 15mill in cash is worth a polite question or two.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Does she have some mental disorder like alzheimer's?

These guys do their research, and find out who your relatives are, where you live, and maybe medical conditions, and target.

If she does not have a medical condition though, it is strange to be taken by this fraud at this stage, it is so common knowledge.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I feel very sorry for the victim and incredible anger at the scumbag who deceived her.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Wow instead of showing food on television all day why don't television show how to protect against people like this

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Loki520 There are flyers printed and distributed, and bundled with the city/ward office newsletters, among other distribution methods. There are posters everywhere, including some featuring a life-size stand-up picture of a cop with an unequivocal warning about the scam, in many bank ATM areas. There are reminders pasted onto ATMs , and on the teller counters at banks. I have seen warnings in the initial screens on some ATMs.

There are posters/notices in city offices and ward offices, prominently displayed.

Hardly a week goes by that some news program or "wide show" news/variety program doesn't mention these scams. There are special TV shows devoted entirely to showing how these scams work, including interviews with victims and advice on how to avoid becoming one.

I have heard notices and warnings on the radio, too. Social workers and home helpers regularly give warnings, too, I am told.

There has been no lack of information and warnings for years now, so while I understand that panic can override common sense, it is difficult for me to be sympathetic for reasons of insufficient information. The problem has been well known and information/warnings well disseminated for years now, including in venues and through media targeted to older folks.

The problem seems to be not so much "I didn't know about such scams", but rather "it couldn't/wouldn't happen to me".

2 ( +2 / -0 )

We have to make sure before lending money to whom is. If you cannot it you never lend money. Ore-ore scam is utilizing the compassion. Nothing to talk to scams who are meanness. It is a basic idea.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The man told the woman that he lost a bag which contained a 30 million yen check from his company and asked her if she could lend him half the amount while his boss’ wife would cover the other half.

Isn't the company insured in cases like this? Also, since this is 2013, and I can withdraw yen from an ATM in Japan and have it instantly taken out of my bank account in the USA, why is this company still using a check hand carried by some company worker. If they were going to do it, wouildn't they have a bonded carrier to walk around with that much money?

Those are some of the questions I would ask, if ever faced with a call like the lady received. But I guess the new breed of criminal knows that many elderly and people in Japan are used to doing things the "old way" and not to hip on how things are done now. Hopefully these scams will decreas as people get more aware, but then all that means is that the criminals will come up with a new scheme.

Have they ever caught any of these people who have done this? They should really publicize the ones that they catch and give out a very harsh sentence as maybe a deterrent, but I think the perps know that the elderly will be embarrased and not really press charges and not want to make a big scene.

Bottom line: If you have a criminal streak in you, and you know the Japanese psyche, you can get away with a lot here.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

For the elderly cut off from communities in the region, estranged from relatives and living lonely day after day, the only clue to your self-esteem perhaps may be your balance in your bank book. The reason why there is no end to people falling into this trap(fraud scheme) is because somewhere in their mind they're thinking "I want to lend a helping hand".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The con artist should be caught and flogged in public!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I can no longer have sympathy, after all of the effort that has gone into trying to prevent these scams.

Some of the scammers aren't too bright, either, apparently: a couple of years ago I had a recording on my answering machine of an"ore-ore" scammer, who had somehow missed the English-language recorded message and continued with his spiel until the timer hung up on him. I dearly wish that I'd been home to take the call; I could have had a lot of fun leading him on.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It's a bit sad that most people have no sympathy at all for an old lady who presumably genuinely thought that her nephew was in trouble, trusted him, and tried to help him. She might not be the sharpest tool in the box, but she's still been the victim of a crime. She wasn't attempting to make a million in a Nigerian banking scam, she was misguidedly trying to help a family member.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Nobody has said the culprits go unpunished, merely commented upon the reasons why this crime is so rife here.

People who prey on the old are scum.

1 ( +1 / -0 )


"73 is not that old to have common sense. She might have a disorder."


"Does she have some mental disorder like alzheimer's?"

It's what she doesn't have that is the point.

No - we cannot blame her for falling prey to these wiley scum. But if she had had more common sense she may have smelt a rat before it was too late.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm with Miri HayShi and I fail to understand why she did this given the amount of media coverage etc regarding ore-ore. Sorry, but I have little sympathy in this case.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

More money than sense....

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Isn't the company insured in cases like this? Also, since this is 2013, and I can withdraw yen from an ATM in Japan and have it instantly taken out of my bank account in the USA, why is this company still using a check hand carried by some company worker. If they were going to do it, wouildn't they have a bonded carrier to walk around with that much money?

if she could fall for this scam then the details don't really matter. he could have said anything and she would have handed over the money. but she is old so its possible he adjusted the story to fit her age.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I hope all of you who have no sympathy for this woman find a way to never get old.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

YardleyAUG. 02, 2013 - 01:06PM JST I hope all of you who have no sympathy for this woman find a way to never get old.

Exactly - poor old woman and how many others go unreported as to their shame and embarrassment. Easy to forget who is who as you get older and perhaps demented or senile or many other age related problems. If they catch them they should cut their fingers off for theft. Could be the old ladies lifeline for food and health care, rent payments, possibly her everything.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Readers, please stop blaming the victim.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Con men are quite rife despite Japan being a safe country. Fraud is very prevalent. Also the locals are quite insular and so don't share knowledge between themselves and so are easy prey. Lonely old lady just wanting to help - to do some good. Very sad but very common crime here. Ore ore means like 'its me' As in shock at not being remembered. Probably to throw the victim off balance from the start of the conversation. 'You don't remember me?!?!?' Then they stick the knife in and ask for money to 'help their situation'. Being family she feels obliged to help and embarrassed to ask to much.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

its like falling for the nigerian prince scam in this day and age...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The news yesterday had four cases in Kyoto over the previous two days. Same basic procedure each case. A call from 'son' to to mother in her 70s saying he's changed his phone number. (He has a cold explaining the strange voice.) Later a call to say money is needed. Can he meet her with the money in a coffee shop? Just before he's supposed to arrive, a call to say he's been involved in an accident. Someone else will be there to collect the money.

In the case above the 'business man in a suit' was wearing a surgical mask and had dyed hair, which later struck the woman as strange.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I feel bad for the elderly who gets duked by a bunch of thieves for selfish reasons. I hope she obtains her money back.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Time for the keystone cops to make little flyers and go door to door handing them out. Stuff them in mailboxes.... take them to the senior's homes. Hell... give them the damn NHK people to hand out.

And banks should be a bit more proactive. They don't need to know why someone is drawing funds, but they could CERTAINLY afford to put up some posters. Maybe even have tellers advise older people drawing out any amount over a certain limit.. in a tactful way... that it is odd for the customer to be drawing out that much funds at that age, and to be careful of those "ore, ore" scams.

Maybe they can reduce these things by a few.

I try to be sympathetic. Not all of these older people have access to this type of information when it occurs. They may not be aware there is such a scam. Just because WE technophiles know, doesn't mean some 60 or 70 year old will. Alas... the panic that they endure might very well override any common sense.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

What a lonely old woman to fall for this.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Abenomics in action. There is now 15 million yen generating jobs/profits for businesses instead of sitting in this woman's bank account doing nothing.

Jokes aside........I also have no sympathy now. But one wonders why the bank didn't catch this? Suddenly withdrawing 15 million yen, 73 years old. That said I guess she could have had it in a safety deposit box at home, which in an earthquake/tsunami prone country is pretty odd too.

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

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