NTT Docomo Inc said Monday the amount of fraudulent money withdrawals from bank accounts linked to its e-money service has increased to 25.42 million yen as more cases were confirmed and some of the stolen money was used at convenience stores and home appliance shops.
In a scam that has prompted 35 banks across the country to suspend new registrations for the e-money service, 27 of them have also stopped allowing customers to send money, or charge, to their existing accounts at mobile carrier NTT Docomo as of 4 p.m. Monday.
The company said 120 cases of fraudulent money withdrawals were found at 11 of the 35 banks that NTT Docomo has partnered with, adding that the first case was discovered last October.
The Japanese Bankers Association on Monday also urged its member banks to strengthen identification procedures, such as implementing a one-time password, when linking accounts to providers of e-money services.
Users of the e-money service can make payments at shops via smartphone and can transfer money when bank accounts are linked.
Anyone can use the service by registering an email address, even without signing a contract with NTT Docomo, and the insufficient identification process is seen as one of the key factors behind the latest scam.
In the recent cases, third parties are believed to have obtained the victims' bank account numbers and passwords, and used them to register with the e-money service to transfer funds.
NTT Docomo has decided to take additional steps to improve the identification process, while the Financial Services Agency has ordered the mobile carrier to look into the cases and report back with steps to prevent any recurrence.© KYODO