crime

Elderly woman transfers Y29 million to man posing as son in trouble

66 Comments

A 65-year-old woman was the victim of repeated bank transfer scams this year, in which she paid out over 29 million yen to an unknown man posing as her son, police said Saturday.

In a form of identity fraud known commonly throughout Japan as "ore ore sagi," the would-be thief typically telephones an elderly person, claiming to be a son or relative in financial trouble. He then requests money be transferred to a bank account to settle a debt he has incurred.

In this instance, according to a TV Asahi news report, the perpetrator called an elderly woman in Tokyo's Suginami Ward on June 17 and posed as her son. He claimed to have run up debts from bad stock investments and asked her to transfer 600,000 yen to his creditor. After she obliged, he repeated the process over 30 times until the total transferred reached around 29 million yen.

According to police, the woman received a telephone call from her actual son this week, at which point the scam was uncovered. Police say the thief used a different bank account for each transfer.

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66 Comments
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over 30 times??????? sorry, something is wrong with this woman.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Something is wrong with her son. Who does not call their momma in over 2 months?!

And yes ... poor woman. You would have thought that she would have double checked with him though, however she might not even have his phone number or home address. Very sad, sign of the times unfortunately. Hope they can get all or some of her money back.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

@himehentai - yeah - that, too. something is defnitely wrong with her son and he should be calling his mama every once in awhile!!!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This woman was a target, wouldn't be surprised if the scam artist studied everything about her before the initial 1st contact. I hope her actual son reflects on this, 2 months is a long time, no excuses.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

As the saying goes, a fool and her money are soon parted. ATMs are plastered with notices telling people not to transfer sums of money without checking first.

After all the publicity and brouha there has been about ore-ore sagi, you'd think there'd be no one stupid enough to fall for it bar the seriously senile and incompetent. At 65 it's not as if she's in her dotage...The son may have had reasons for not contacting his Mum for two months (can't think of any off the top of my head, though), but what reason could the Mum have had for being so easily convinced - 30 times, ferchissakes - that her son was such a plonker?

7 ( +7 / -1 )

FYI,2 months of no communication is not a long time for the japanese and that is normal for them....and I hate them for that,really!!!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Only in Japan...

Can't think of any old lady doing such thing in Europe (even she had the money)

You don't just pay 5000Euro or more in once without asking to someone, at least get a receipt with some data on it. And the hole process for 29 times, sorry for her but she deserve it.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

she must be a bit thick. Come one 65 years old is not that old.. Didnt she talk about anything else with all the calls... Didnt she question anything.....

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Don't they see the name on the account when they are making the transfer? And even if it works in the beginning, don't the police have a pretty easy path to finding the account owner when it's finally uncovered?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Pity you did not visit or phone more often son cos I just spent your inheitance

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I have a few questions.

First, how could the woman not recognize her own son's voice? Why would she not ask questions? Why were there no alarm bells going off in her head? I don't think anyone "deserves" to be robbed like this, but you would think that it wouldn't be so easy.

If the con man set up bank accounts for transferring money, shouldn't there be a paper trail for the police to follow?

In a follow up to the the last question..if a person is able to create an anonymous bank account somehow, shouldn't the banks change their procedures given that this scam is still going on?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

how could the woman not recognize her own son's voice?

Hearing deteriorates as people get older. Also electronic voices (as through the phone) can sound different. (Voice of experience)

Why would she not ask questions? Why were there no alarm bells going off in her head?

I can only imagine her opinion of her son was so low that she was more than ready to accept, without any proof, that he was the kind of louse who would make bad financial calls and then expect his pensioner Mum to bail him out. What I don't get is why, if that was her opinion of him, she would be ready to hand over all that cash, knowing it was going to a lost cause? And if she had no reason to expect that kind of attitude from him, why on earth she didn't double-check. It all comes down to...chronic stupidity.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Jono, nice post. Was asking the same questions and came to a conclusion, there is something wrong with the woman mentally. As for not calling your family, 2 months is not long at all in Japanese standards.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Could be a lot of reasons. I don't call my mom for months at a time.. especially when I live in a foreign country because of time zone difference and cost. It's quite possible that the son lives in a different country and between a possible very busy work and such, just hasn't had time. As for those who say why didn't the son call the mother. It works both ways, why didn't she call her son. I'm sure she had his number, and she should have, especially after the first?! transfer, called her son to ask about it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hearing deteriorates as people get older. Also electronic voices (as through the phone) can sound different. (Voice of experience)

I may be able to buy that for a little, but another question remains in my mind. why didn't the mother follow up with a call to her son to see if he got the money? Seems kind of odd to me not to at least follow up. I guess the son has done this type of thing before asking money from the mother. It would seem that she is familiar with this type of behavior.

Also, I guess the mother must not have talked to the son much. I live around the world from my family, but I do take the time at least once a week to drop a line to see if all is well, and to just conversate with family. I guess that is one of the mysteries of Japan. You have a whole holiday period of going back to remember dead relatives and setting up candles outside the door for them, but you don't take the time to speak to them while they are living. Interesting.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Made me laugh actually.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

@jan claudis...this happens all over the world. In Europe, there is the infamous Nigerian scam, where victims are sent an email saying the person needs to transfer millions of dollars out of Nigeria to avoid the corrupt government. They promise 5% as a commission. When the victim sends their bank details, the Nigerians empty their bank account.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

why didn't the mother follow up with a call to her son to see if he got the money? Seems kind of odd to me not to at least follow up. I guess the son has done this type of thing before asking money from the mother. It would seem that she is familiar with this type of behavior.

You'd think, wouldn't you? My daughter goes round old folks' homes and community centres talking to the oldies about ore ore sagi, and she says it's amazing how many of them are quite ready to believe the worst of their family (spouses and offspring) without the slightest justification. Some old dears told her that even after checking and confirming that a family member had not appropriated company funds/crashed into someone's parked Merc/got a 15 year old pregnant or whatever, they would still transfer the money 'just in case' or 'to avoid a scandal'. It beggars belief.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

" According to police, the woman received a telephone call from her actual son this week, at which point the scam was uncovered. "

I´d like to hear that conversation.... "you did what""?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Superlib:

" Don't they see the name on the account when they are making the transfer? And even if it works in the beginning, don't the police have a pretty easy path to finding the account owner when it's finally uncovered? "

No, they don´t. Because the scamsters of course don´t use their personal data to open these accounts.. This scam has been around for such a long time here, don´t say you never read about how it works?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Police say the thief used a different bank account for each transfer.

That is the scary part. How are bank staff so lax that one man could make 30 different accounts?

Yet, my wife and I wanted to make a joint account at the same place and they said "No way!".

Nice to see that some people have freedom.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

65 just isn't that old. Unless she has premature dementia or something, her age is not a serious factor in this crime. Every 65 year old I know (and I know a number of 65 year olds) has perfectly adequate mental facilities to sniff out a blatant scam. Perhaps this woman is sick or idiotic, but it's kind of insulting to 65 year olds to blame her supposed advanced age.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Years ago when these Ore Ore Sagi things started, there were so many elderly tricked into sending money. Finally, banks and post offices have put restrictions on transfers and posters up at the ATM's asking users if they know who they are transfering money to etc.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My japanese husband would speak to his parents about every 2 months. I speak to mine every week! Every family relationship is different.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

supercubAug. 21, 2011 - 01:22PM JST 65 just isn't that old. Unless she has premature dementia or something, her age is not a serious factor in this crime. Every 65 year old I know (and I know a number of 65 year olds) has perfectly adequate mental facilities to sniff out a blatant scam. Perhaps this woman is sick or idiotic, but it's kind of insulting to 65 year olds to blame her supposed advanced age.

I agree, barring any mental conditions (retardation, dementia, etc) it's unlikely that the vast majority of 65 year-olds would do this 30 times.

... however one possibility that people seem unwilling to explore is that this woman is just plain, old-fashioned stupid and gullible. I mean seriously this is one old woman out of millions in Japan, and in every group you have the bright, and the amazingly stupid. I think she's a clear abberation and no-one should generalise. It may not be nice calling her an idiot, but sometimes you just have to call a spade and entrenching tool... wait, that's a bad example, but you get the idea.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is a good transfer mechanism for the richer older generations to give to those that are following that cannot find a decent job. Its like an estate tax except only one thief profits.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Oracle:

" That is the scary part. How are bank staff so lax that one man could make 30 different accounts? "

That is not how it works. The scammers pay young people to open accounts and give them the cards, cash and carry. When the police knocks on their door, the only thing they are guilty of is giving their bank cards away. But no money to retrieve from those fall guys.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When I first saw this at 0700, I was going to post who will blame the Old lady, who will blames the son and how many would blame the scamming POS.

Was thinking:

75% the old lady being fooled

20% the son not calling

5% the scammer for being a POS

Guess I was off, 0% for the scammer.

Looking back at zurcronium post, is it possible that the son could have set up the whole thing to avoid the high inheritance tax?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

is it possible that the son could have set up the whole thing to avoid the high inheritance tax?

Little to no inheritance tax to pay on 29 million. If the son was the only recipient and there was no will, he'd be up to pay roughly 3.85 million.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I hope karma catches up with this scammer in a big way. The scary thing is he has probably done this dozens of times. Let's hope something very bad happens to this piece of garbage.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Nigerian scammers who can speak Japanese would surely wake a killing here! ripe for the picking.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Nigerian scammers who can speak Japanese would surely wake a killing here! ripe for the picking.

Oh, they do, buddy, they are the kings of Roppongi!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I guess my other comment to this case may seem mean, but I have to say it. If the son was actually making profits on his investments, I wonder was he providing money to his mother. I mean had she been receiving money from him in the past when he was making a profit, and thought that this was the right thing to do since he has been taking care of her? If not, I would not be mad at the mother for not helping him out. If he is indeed investing, he is the one that is assuming the risk. What if the mother didn't want to put her finances up for speculation in that manner.

A lot of side issues that can come to play with this, but I guess I would have to say that it comes to a point in ones life when you can't be expected to get bailed out by ones parents. I can understand if the son (actual not scammer) had lost it all and came to her for help, but if this lady is willing to just up and give money after a mere phone call, there are probably some other family dynamics that are at play here.

I guess one reason why scammers tend to make it here in Japan, is that they know their audience pretty well, and are not afraid to "think outside the box" and exploit what is probably known here in Japan, namely that many older people are lonely for attention and are gullable when it comes to these sort of things.

Just my opinion.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I am speaking on personally observed experiences and it seems that people here are quick to avoid shame or a scandal. An old girlfriend fell for a call stating that she did not fulfill her book club obligation and that she had to come to Tokyo and meet this man on a certain train platform. He told her to bring her bank book and that he could "make it go away" without her job or family finding out. I hate to think of how she would have been taken had I not been there to stop her.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This could only happen with elderly people who have been left alone for too long. If the children would keep better contacts to their aged parents they would be better in shape mentally and detect such scams more easily. We should not put all the blame on the banks.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

sojherde, you'd be surprised. I can't say how I have had experience of this, but I have come across a large number of people in the UK who get scammed by means that wouldn't fool truly switched on individuals. We're talking about people who have degrees and even doctorates, who are still working and are middle aged. But they still fall for it. Some are greedy and think they're slyly making money through something that might be a bit of a grey area, but others are just too trusting.

And 65 is not old or decrepid, especially for Japanese people. My grandfather continued to complete the (hard) Times crossword into his early 80s.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Only in Japan...

Can't think of any old lady doing such thing in Europe (even she had the money)

It's happening in the US as well. It's called 'Grandparent Scam', or 'Grandson Scam' they do the same thing as in Japan, call up and pretend to be a child or grandchild in distress.

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/grandparent-scams-impostors-dupe-elderly-pretending-grandchildren/story?id=13240557

From ABC News-

"Jim and his wife of Wilmington, N.C., for example, received a call last month from a man saying he was their grandson.

The man said he had been in a car accident while traveling in the Dominican Republic. After explaining his injuries and that he badly needed money to get out of jail and return to the United States, the man begged Jim, 78, not to tell his "parents" and blamed his voice change on the accident.

"'Con man' is short for confidence man," Steve Baker, director of the FTC's Midwest region, said. "Their expertise is gaining your confidence."

Jim, who asked ABC News not to publish his last name, worried about his grandson's safety and health, followed the man's instructions and wired him several installments totaling $7,200 through Western Union. He and his wife had not spoken to their several grandsons in weeks, all of whom live out of state.

Jim learned he was the victim of an imposter scam when he called his son after a day to check up on him, and the grandson was fine at home.

"I obviously felt terrible about it," Jim said. "My first reaction was I felt stupid. I can think of 1,000 questions that would have stopped it." "

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yakuza, how else to get your hands on 30 different fake bank accounts...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Here's a thought... How about a law that says, once a person passes the age of 60 (or whatever), any significant change in bank account behavior (sudden spike in outgoing transactions, for example) will cause the account to be frozen until the bank contacts the account holder to confirm the transactions and to strongly warn the account holder of ore ore sagi scams.

My credit card company contacts me immediately when they see anything out of the ordinary; I even have to contact them prior to traveling overseas or the card would be shut off after its first use. I don't see why the banks aren't taking a more proactive stance on this issue.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Dear Shumatsu_Samurai, I did not write intellectually but mentally. I know that many elderly people feel lonely because even their children and relatives do not visit them and do not talk to them. Don't think that there is much diffenerence in other parts of the world. The point I tried to make is this : we should try to stay in contact as much we can with our parents and grandparents. That can keep them from getting dement too early and will keep them alert in many things.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Identity theft is one of the ways in which to obtain multiple bank accounts. Has anyone ever thought just how much personal information may be obtained from a bogus job application form? Name ,address, mothers maiden name,date of birth, do you hold a current passport or driving licence, country of origin and place of birth? Its not only from documents discarded in your rubbish bin that enables a fraudster

0 ( +0 / -0 )

DUH!!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This happens every other day in Japan. The only reason this made news was cos of the amount. It amazes me that this kind of scam has been going on for years and has been well publicized, but these mullets still keep dishing out their cash. Just truly amazing!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

This is for anyone that thinks this woman "deserves" it.

Yes she may have not used the best judgement in this case, but I do not think under any circumstances did she DESERVE to get robbed. Think about what you are saying before you say it.

People really can be mean spirited sometimes, and that is what is sad. Wishing, or thinking someone "deserved" harm because they might have been a little too trusting, makes you just as pitiful as the man who committed this crime in my book. Grow a heart people.

I hope this woman can get her money back.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Aren't you able to tell by the voice whether the person on the other side of the line is your child or not? Logically speaking, the "ore ore sagi" should not work at all.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This woman sounds like an idiot, so she is partly to blame for giving so much money away to her so called son, my friends from Osaka etc...think people up here in Tokyo are just AHO YA NA!! Too plain stupid so they get what they deserve!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

A fool and her money are soon parted! If I were her husband, it would be a blindfold and a last cigarette! DUNCE!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The huge difference between this and the Nigerian 401 scam is the motive of the victim. In the Nigerian scheme, people get sucked in by greed - the chance to get money for nothing. Ore ore (or grampa/grandson) scams hit the people who are willing to make a sacrifice to protect a loved one. Even more despicable in my book,

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Asagao

@jan claudis...this happens all over the world. In Europe, there is the infamous Nigerian scam, where victims are sent an email saying the person needs to transfer millions of dollars out of Nigeria to avoid the corrupt government.

Nigeria is in Africa, not Europe.

This is sad to see, but actually this happens all the time. What I can't understand is when they are transferring all that money, can't they see the sign on the wall of the ATM that specifically warns of such scams.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

EM, people in Kansai are getting scammed too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Organised crime is well organised in Japan!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Oh man, bring on the thumbs down barrage, seriously how stupid can you be? 30 times to different accounts? When you make a transfer you usually need both the name of the account and the account number... All 30 accounts had her sons name on them? Even if the name was correct she didn't find it strange that on each occasion the account number was different? Absolutely no sympathy for the likes of this woman, the 29 million was a waste in her account. At least with her funds out on the street the money is circulating and helping the economy be it circulating in and around the underworld.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

65 years old is not elderly! Is that word (elderly) being used as an excuse for her complete and utter stupidity?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My parents were recently victims of the ore ore scam. Luckily, they didn't send any money but my mother was called by "me" in the Dominican Republic, where I had apparently been arrested and needed $3000 to get out of jail. Were it not for the fact that they were able to contact me at work, they would have sent the money as well. Apparently the guy sounded like me to my mother and knew things about me (could be her imagination though). The point is, the ore ore scam isn't just a Japanese thing anymore.

Taka

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

0ld news.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Years ago when these Ore Ore Sagi things started, there were so many elderly tricked into sending money. Finally, banks and post offices have put restrictions on transfers and posters up at the ATM's asking users if they know who they are transfering money to etc.

The restrictions are still in place with regards to making transfers from ATM's, where I am living banks limit ATM money transfers to 100,000 per transfer, to one account. Anything over that and one has to go through a teller.

It's easy to make 30 different accounts, problem is how did "Mom" not figure out something was wrong after the first few times her "son" changed account numbers. Sorry but I believe Mom is either sick (mentally), naive, or just plain ignorant.

Age shouldnt matter, I know plenty of 65 year old folks that have more common sense, awareness of whats going on around them, smarts, etc than many 20-somethings folks I know too.

Just curious, where did Mom get nearly 300K from? Nenkin? Maybe Mom was Ojo-chan and really has no sense of money and 300K means nothing to her.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All good scam artists know their victims. Sadly the proliferation of this kind of scam in Japan is an indication that people are not as honest as they like to think they are. I'm talking about the victims. The bottom line is that when you're willing to send this kind of money to bail someone out of a dubious situation you are not honest. Since when do police make you pay on-sight for damages resulting in a car crash? Since when do victims of sexual harrasment or molestation demand money without a lawyer and who would just pay them without having their own lawyer? A lot of this ore ore business comes down to people wanting to pay off people to avoid scandals or legal trouble. A truly honest person would see through the scam, double check the information to prove it true or not and act appropriately. The scams in the U.S. often appeal to people's greed or desire to save a buck. In Japan they appeal to people's desire to avoid trouble at all costs. Either way, if you're in control of your mental faculties and possess a modicum of common sense and honesty, you can't be taken advantage of unless you let yourself be.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For those lacking common sense and honesty, consider establishing a code word that will prove the identity of the caller to be legitimate or not. Say the mother and her son had decided their code word was unicorn. The first time she got a call like this she could've asked the caller the code word. When he couldn't give it she'd know it wasn't her son. If her son is giving out the code word to shady friends then she's got a whole other problem on her hands.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Taka313: I'm not including your parents in my harsh assessment of people who fall for this kind of thing because when you throw a second or third country into the mix I think you enter a whole different realm of the unknown and legitimate fear of what could happen. Still, a code word would've helped in that situation too, no?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ambrosia, as most of these victims are at least in their 60s, I would tend to chalk it up to naivete rather than dishonesty. An older person with bad hearing, not out in the working world much, may very well fall for this type of scam.

Some of the scams are quite complicated, for one version of the traffic accident scam, where your loved one supposedly hit another car and injured a pregnant woman, one person plays a police officer, another the victim's husband, or a hospital employee. They play recordings of traffic sounds etc. I don't know about this woman, but sometimes when you hear how they did it, you think it's no wonder they got scammed, panic overtakes any kind of rational thought.

I got a call one day from an 'officer' in the Hyogo Prefectural Police Department telling me that my husband had just been in an accident, and he had hurt someone. It was 10:30 AM, so I knew it was impossible, I said 'Do you have the right person? My husband is already at work over an hour and a half'. I think he was hoping to get someone whose husband was in an eigyou department, and out in a car all day. He started to change his story , "No , the accident was at 8:30" so I said angrily, "And you're only informing me NOW??" He hung up. Afterwards I kicked myself, I should have played him along until he gave me the bank account number, I could have had it closed down. He was so bad at it though! When he first told me, and it took me a second to realize what time is was etc he said "You don't seem upset" and I thought "You faker!"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I understand that the scams can be quite elaborate but I stand by what I said. They work because they appeal to weaknesses in the human character. I'm not sure what kind of elderly people you know but the ones I count as family and friends are neither naive nor lacking common sense. I find it implausible that someone still in control of their senses believes that paying a supposed victim is the legal thing to do before they speak face to face with a police officer and the son, husband, daughter, etc. who supposedly caused the accident or commited the crime. I understand that victims of crimes and accidents do get compensated but even as a non-Japanese I know that you go through legitimate procedures before you do that. To do otherwise is circumventing the law and trying to cover-up what happened, dishonest in other words.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm not sure what kind of elderly people you know but the ones I count as family and friends are neither naive nor lacking common sense.

Good! And that's not snark! My mother is quite weakened now, and being widowed not all that long ago, can be very emotional and react before she thinks. MIL has dementia and in the early stages people bilked her out of money and possessions. Some elderly can be quite flighty! If yours aren't count your blessings, and I mean that in all kindness.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What surprise me is they actually arrested him.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My friends Mum got one of these phone calls. One guy pretended to be the police saying they had arrested her son, and then her "son" came on the line crying and saying "Okaaaasan! Tasukete!" - she couldnt stop laughing! She just said "You crapped up, you are on your own you dumbass!"

Then the line went dead....!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ha,ha,ha!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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