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Japanese man gets hit with massive bill for Y1 mil after iPhone stolen in Spain

By Casey Baseel

A Japanese iPhone user fell victim to overseas thieves, then received a surprise upon returning home -- a massive bill from his cell phone carrier for nearly one million yen ($9,800).

The unfortunate Apple user, who goes by Omomo on his Twitter account, had his phone swiped on Dec 29 during a subway ride in Barcelona. It was apparently his last night in Spain, as he says the next day he borrowed a phone and made the necessary calls to cancel his service while in Casablanca.

At the end of his travels, Omomo returned to his home in Fukuoka. One day, while his father was visiting, the older gentleman grabbed the day’s mail from the mailbox, and noticed a bill from Omomo’s cell phone service provider, SoftBank. Out of curiosity, the father tore open the envelope, no doubt expecting to see something in line with Omomo’s normal monthly fees in the 7,000-9,000 yen range.

The bill was just a little higher.

Seeing as how only 15 hours had passed between Omomo’s phone being stolen and his cancelling the service for the unit, he was shocked by the damage: 994,919 yen. “I feel like my head’s sprung a leak,” he tweeted.

His first suspicion was that the thief had run up the huge tally by going far and above the standard data download allowances of Omomo’s pricing plan. Looking into the breakdown of the bill proved that this wasn’t the case however, as the daily list of voice call charges showed 22,615 yen’s worth being made on the day of the theft, with a staggering 953,465 yen charged the next day, Dec 30.

The pitiable theft victim claims that his service contract stipulates that regardless of who the calls were placed by, management of the phone’s use, and payment of the fees occurred therein, is solely the responsibility of the contract holder, in this case Omomo himself. “I talked to the staff at the SoftBank shop and the police,” he tweeted. “I was told that if the thief is caught I won’t have to pay the fees, but the chance of that happening is pretty slim.”

Other Twitter users caught wind of the story, with one initially doubting Omomo’s timeline. “Did you really let just 15 hours go between losing your phone and calling SoftBank?” one asked.

“Yes, it was just 15 hours,” Omomo assured him. “Maybe the bill is so high because he called a country really far away, or because of roaming charges.”

This convinced the questioner of Omomo’s honesty, redirecting his suspicions toward SoftBank’s calculations. “Regardless of where it’s placed to, a call from Spain shouldn’t exceed 265 yen a minute, no matter what carrier you’re using,” he explained. “Even if the thief kept the call going nonstop for the entire 15 hours, it should only have come to about 238,500 yen, so I think there must be some other reason for your bill looking the way it does.”

Omomo is still looking for a way to resolve the issue without having to pay SoftBank the cost of a decent motorcycle, all while regretting not having acted even more quickly. “Recently, a lot of people who lose their iPhone want to try tracking it through iCloud, but the very first thing you should do is cancel your service,” he laments.

In the meantime, he’s taking the whole thing with remarkably good humor. “Nothing to do but laugh,” he says. “I mean, can you believe what a lazy crook stole my phone? If you’re gonna go that far, at least finish the job and rack up a full million yen in charges.”

Sources: Jin, Twitter

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- How cute does a girl have to be before she’s forgiven for using a stolen iPhone? This cute -- Japan Develops Smartphone Application That Sends Smells -- Thief sells bikes on popular auction site, steals them back

© RocketNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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It never ceased to amaze me how many people do not use pass code locks on their phones. And, this guy thinks a ten-thousand dollar phone bill is funny? You can teach common sense, but you can't teach idiocy!

-17 ( +3 / -20 )

Welcome to Japan - the country where the customer is King. Until you hand over your damn money. SoftBank is alright, as long as you only want to use their services and have no complaints or, heaven forbid, would like to return a product. Then they basically tell you to p--s off.

This also (again) highlights the non-existing customer protection laws Japan is content with. You are basically on your own if something like this happens.

18 ( +22 / -4 )

A quick Google search will show you that there are an incredibly large number of ways you can break or bypass a pass code, it's fairly common knowledge lol..

I agree with that other guy though, Softbank is probably doing something dodgy with those charges, how could it possibly have cost 1 million in less than a day..?

7 ( +11 / -4 )

A quick Google search will show you that there are an incredibly large number of ways you can break or bypass a pass code, it's fairly common knowledge lol

No, it is not fairly common knowledge. If I asked 100 of my friends, maybe 2 or 3 would know how to do it.

Sure, if everyone did a quick search, they might be able to do it, but it is NOT common knowledge.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Cant softbank trace what numbers where dialed or which sites have been visited to accumulate that said amount? Bit weird.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Softbank sucks.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

something weird about this story

no passcode? no insurance? can't the police track the phone thru gps stuff or the phone towers used and get the theif's house? i guess maybe not if he didn't bring it home...

if your credit card is stolen, you aren't responsible for charges made...

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Just go to phone company website, login, and suspend the phone service with a couple options: lost (limited functionality) or stolen (completely blocked).

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The least Softbank could do would be to give Omomo an itemized, detailed list of exactly what makes up that massive December 30 charge. If they don't, it makes it look like Softbank is running a scam.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I know my son uses his iPhone for shopping... Maybe the thief bought him/herself a new car or something ?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Cant softbank trace what numbers where dialed or which sites have been visited to accumulate that said amount? Bit weird.

Of course they could. But who wants the hassle when they can just extort the money from a contracted customer?

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Some people live and learn while others just live.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

It must be calling from Spain to Romania.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

but the very first thing you should do is cancel your service

you think?? too bad you didn't figure that out earlier.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I know my son uses his iPhone for shopping... Maybe the thief bought him/herself a new car or something ?

No, that wouldn't get charged to the phone company.

I'm surprised they don't have a limit to the roaming charges per month? I use docomo and they have caps on roaming usage by default.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I've had the joy of being charged almost 200,000 yen for roaming data I didn't use (long story) - the 1,000,000 yen would've been all data. It also costs 100 yen PER MESSAGE when roaming! I can't believe this is even legal... Softbank are absolute dogs (pun intended) if they charge him the full amount...

For those asking "Can't Softbank just give him the info?" etc. - THEY DON'T CARE. They will push for the full amount, and will not invest the time & effort in following up this case. This is the telco industry (and it's not just like this in Japan).

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The same thing happened to me last summer.

My phone was taken from my pocket not too long after I'd taken a couple of photos with it. This happened at night and I was unable to cancel the service until around eleven in the morning the next morning. I understood that I needed to block my service and that I needed to buy a calling card to make an international call to SoftBank to make the cancellation.

The whole process of obtaining the calling card and making the call took a few hours in the morning. In the interim, the thief accrued around 190,000 yen in charges just in phone calls alone. Though all the calls were to numbers that had never been called before and I tried to explain my story to SoftBank upon my return, they informed me that I'd need to pay the money anyway if I wanted to continue my service.

Never mind that I'd been using the same number since the Digital Tsuka days and had been great-great-great grandfathered in, so to speak, as a SoftBank customer. I told them I didn't have the money for it and they repeated that I'd need to pay up right away. To call my level of dissatisfaction "disappointment" would be an understatement.

After a few weeks, I finally got a hit on my iCaughtU app. I was emailed a snap of the perp trying to unlock my phone. The iphone's gps data showed it's location to be in Lahore, Pakistan.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Before you leave on your trip, make sure you call your provider and tell them when you're leaving, where you're going and when you're returning. Explain to them that you will only be using Wi-Fi and will have your data plan turned off. This way they know that you know they cannot cheat you. I'd rather take few minutes to do this than receive an outrageous bill.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

There are apps you could use to track and block the lost iphone. This happened to me earlier this year. I lost my phone in Seoul. Got on the net and blocked my phone with a message to email me. I got the email and got my phone back. As to the charges, SoftBank may rescind the charges. You just have to call customer support/service. The negotiation is not done at the shops.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hearing everyone's stories, I imagine I will have my phone's services turned off when I go home next summer, or just not take it. Can buy a cheap burner while there. Convenience of net, camera etc, not worth the risk, maybe.

But really, w/ a phone, you might not notice it's stolen til some time has passed, as you might think you just left it at work/ in the living room/ etc...

Need better security for this stuff.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

SoftBank?? What a tip off!!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Oops!!i meant rip off!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

When my phone separates from me beyond a certain distance, my key dongle and the phone both sound loud alarm and locks the phone.

1 ( +1 / -0 )


How does your phone know it is separating from you?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hey Lowly, thru proximity devices synced to its app works via Bluetooth.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Thanks, lostrune, googled, will check w/stores.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Is there any real reporting here? Or is this just all off the guys Twitter?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When I go abroad my phone is immediately turned off ....everything is locked down under passwords and ppasswords... if it is stolen, only a genius could figure out the password and by that time I would have canceled the service already... I get coins and use payphones.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Did the guy "omomo" have a password so no one could get in the phone? If not, thats an idea for the future. Unless im mistaken.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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