crime

New program warns elderly against 'ore ore' scams

27 Comments

Police in Saitama Prefecture are teaming up with local TV station UHF to air a special live show warning against Japan's growing problem of "ore ore" telephone scams starting Monday. "Ore ore" scams involve con artists calling an elderly person, claiming to be a relative in trouble and requesting that money be transferred to them immediately.

On the program, which will share with viewers locations that are particularly prone to the fraud as well as how exactly the scheme works, police will send faxes of reports they receive in real time.

According to authorities, the number of reports of bank transfer fraud has decreased nationwide by around 23.5% from the previous year during the first half of the year, while the amount of money lost has fallen 28.9% to about 3.06 billion yen. Of all incidents, the number of "ore ore" scams ranked the most at 2.05 billion yen and 1,480 cases.

Second was fraudulent billing at 854.6 million yen over 982 cases, and third was financing fraud -- a type of scam where a would-be borrower deposits a small amount of money into the account of a supposed money lender to prove their trustworthiness, only to have the loan request rejected and deposit unreturned --at 98.6 million yen over 187 cases.

Demographically, women in their 70s are most prone to falling for "ore ore" scams, with women in their 80s and 60s following close behind.

© News reports

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

27 Comments
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People don't know who their relatives are?

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These scammers are tricky. Let me tell you about a case that happened to my friends, a sensible couple in their 60s. One day, out of the blue, they got a phone call from a "police officer" informing them that their daughter (a med student living in another prefecture) had caused a car accident. They were instructed to transfer some Y700000 into a bank account as soon as possible, in order to secure her release. Naturally, they demanded to speak to her first. Their "daughter" was then put on the phone, but was so distressed that she couldn't answer any of their questions, and could only sob and cry faintly, "mother, help me!" Still suspicious, they called their daughter's cell phone number but failed to get through (they later discovered that the scammers had previously made so many nuisance calls to her that she switched it off completely).

In a state of panic, they called another relative to borrow some money. Fortunately this relative was clued-up about the "ore-ore" scams, and warned them to ignore the call and not send any money at all. Later on they managed to establish contact with their unsuspecting daughter, who had been out enjoying lunch with friends and had no idea what her poor parents had been through.

Strangely enough, they didn't bother reporting this episode to the police - probably out of embarrassment - which leads me to believe that this kind of scam is far more widespread than is popularly believed.

Be careful out there!

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Tessa: Sorry, but if they fell for that crap they're not 'sensible' at all, are they? Since when do police demand you transfer money quickly to an unknown account in the event of an accident? Yes, it's VERY fortunate they had a relative they called who actually DOES have some sense. These guys aren't smart, the 'customers' are stupid.

Take care, people. Ask questions that only the police/relatives could answer, or throw out a 'but that person is with me now'; guaranteed they'll hang up within a few seconds.

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Judging by my bad jokes and sarcasm over the years. I would say most Japanese are gullible, oblivious and their common sense is out the window. The Jerky Boys should try this place out.

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Sorry, Tessa - they didn't sound like a sensible couple

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Hard to believe this scam is still around. Must have read about it years ago. And it's still axactly the same!

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Such scams are not possible without an access to confidential family data. Do poor families also get 'ore' 'ore' calls?

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Next headline "Police warn against dropping 100万円 on the street on a windy day"

Some people simply have no sense. Next thing you know, they'll believe they're being entiteld to $40 million US from a Nigerian bank.

"But these guys are so convincing" - Please, give it a rest.

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There's a similar prank call on youtube where some Canadian phones up an American family to tell the father that his daughter has been arrested. The questions the father immediately asks are: where did this happen? what's your name? what's your police number? which police station are you calling from? what is you precinct's phone number so I can call you back to prove this is genuine? can I drive down to your precinct now and meet you?

When these questions were not adequately answered he became angry and aggressive, and then threatening.

The Japanese are either gullible or trusting. Or perhaps that's one and the same thing?

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From what I have been told, the "ore ore" scammers don't operate in Osaka, as Kansai people are more willing to confront the caller. The problem is mainly in the Kanto area, with Nerima ward being the worst for some reason. People are hesitant to cause any offense by being assertive, and so for cultural reasons they are easy marks.

True or not, that is what Osaka people claim.

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@S7ro9kGm3aQ - if the caller is a foreigner Japanese people will also ask similar questions. Therefore, gullible and trusting are not one and the same thing.

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Surely there is a problem with some of these figures. 854 billion yen in false billing incidents??? That's more than $8 billion, or almost $800 million per incident. I think they mean 854 million yen, and 98.6 million yen...

That said, Japanese people are hardly the only gullible ones. Otherwise, why do some obviously fraudulent phishing schemes ("Your order with Amazon", "Your FedEx Account") generate any response? Or why did thousands of elderly in the US give their Social Security, Medicaid, and other confidential information to strangers who then used it to defraud the government of hundreds of millions of dollars? Why does the so-called "Kenya Scam" still reel in victims?

It's a problem everywhere. It just takes on different forms in different countries.

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Old people tend to lose their cool when they suddenly hear their kids or grandkids have been involved in an "accident" and some people are taking advantage of that. We can't expect everyone to keep calm in the midst of what they might think of as an emergency, so this program is certainly welcome in terms of telling them exactly how to act, what questions to ask, etc. I hope they catch every single scumbag that preys on the elderly.

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Seems like every year there is more and more scams taking place amongst the old people in Japan. There should be a law that states that if these kinds of things takes place and the culprit gets caught, that person should be sent to prison for 99 years and all of his assets be given to the people that he scammed.

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alladin-

What happen to (NAME OF A COUNTRY) morals? Seems like every year there is more and more scams taking place amongst the old people in (NAME OF A COUNTRY).

This isn't just a Japanese thing.

sk4ek said-- why do some obviously fraudulent phishing schemes ("Your order with Amazon", "Your FedEx Account") generate any response? Or why did thousands of elderly in the US give their Social Security, Medicaid, and other confidential information to strangers who then used it to defraud the government of hundreds of millions of dollars?

sk4ek- i agree!

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Japan’s growing problem of “ore ore” telephone scams starting Monday. “Ore ore” 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 authorities, the number of reports of bank transfer fraud has decreased nationwide by around 23.5% from the previous year during the first half of the year

I'm confused.

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I think Tessa's point is that they are normally a sensible couple and yet they got roped in by the speel. Most people assume they're too savvy to get scammed - until it happens.

I too agree with sk4ek. Someone is responding to those Your Fedex/Your Paypal account/Your Order emails, otherwise the scammers wouldn't bother thinking up new ones every couple of weeks..

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Billions of spam are sent everyday, and email is cheap. It only takes 0.01% to respond to make the whole spam operation worthwhile.

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The whole "ore, ore" is bigtime Japan only, no other country has such a large number of wealthy elderly who can be so easily swindled by such an obvious scam. The whole "protect the family from shame" thing is so Japanese. This is a huge industry here, many Yaks making 100 mill a year from this. Show me any other country where this is so prevalent.

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Good pick ThonThaddeo. A GROWING PROBLEM that has DECREASED 23.5% since last year. Hmmm. It sure looks like someone is trying to get some mileage out of an old news story on a slow news day.

Sure Tessa's right. Smith's right. I won't blame the victim. This COULD happen to anyone. There are skilled and non-skilled Nigerians, too. The interesting hook to Tessa's story is the use of a benevolent and authoritative police officer who asks for the money. It is a good formula. A good story. Med student implies a rich family who wants no trouble. As always, the con relies on the mark's desire to hush things up and cut corners. Even the money amount seems well chosen. Such a family would be likely to have that amount ready to go somewhere.

Actually, that is the funny part of the story. These ore ore people are overestimating how much money people have lying around. The more people who get involved, the lower their probability of success. They got greedy.

Anyway, somebody could have gotten all necessary information together for that scam from her cell phone in about five minutes. They had the necessary information and probably provided the parents everything they wanted to know. Close, but, no cigar for the con men this time.

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I am puzzled. Why do the bad guys rely on such scams if they can easily rob an elder person's handbag? The risk is surely the same.

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What I also don't get, is why is it so hard to trace the people. Just look at the bank account that the money was sent to, surely?

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Chotto. I agree. As with kidnappers, somebody has to come to take the money eventually. I guess you could steal somebody's account and run money through there. Maybe that happens too.

To be a successful criminal, you would have to be motivated, organized and pretty creative. Makes you wonder. The dumb ones get caught, sure, but the smart ones might as well go legit. Given the risks and rewards, scamming can't be that great. Plus there is the "burning in hell for all eternity" part that has to be reckoned with someday.

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It's pretty easy for people, especially elderly people, to fall for phishing scams. If you have an ebay, Paypal, Citibank, or whatever kind of account and you're not too tech savvy, it would be pretty easy to click on the link and enter your info, depending on how official the email looks.

The "ore ore" scams I just don't get. I mean, they're called that because the caller just says, "It's me! It's me!" but not, you know, a NAME. If someone called me up and said, "It's me! Your brother/father/mother/whatever!" I would be REALLY suspicious. I work in eikaiwa and teach my share of elderly housewives. Everyone tells me how suspicious they are of those folks who take donations on the street. If THOSE people are suspicious, I just don't get how someone would transfer a lot of money to some unknown person who called them up. Especially when the ATM SCREAMS at you not to when you try to make a transfer.

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This happened to a friend of mine - the guy called and claimed he was her son, had been arrested and needed money for bail. She told him "Buddy, if you are indeed my son and have done something stupid enough to get yourself arrested you`re on your own!" (Her son was actually sitting next to her at the time!)

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Pretend to be yakuza and tell the guy his life is over...

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It's funny. In my company, when they get Nigerian scams and such by email. They actually print out the email, the group leader stamps it with his hanko and passes it around like a memo along with all the other memos. Truth be told, most of them don't speak or read English, but it's funny that it's treated as an actual business item.

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