The “ore ore scam” is one of the oldest cons in Japan, and it starts when a crook calls a senior citizen on the phone and says “Ore da,” or “It’s me.” The plan is that the target will mistake the scammer for a son or grandson, and should they ask “Who is this?” the scammer will employ guilt tactics, saying, “What? It’s me! You recognize my voice, don’t you?”
The next step is for the scammer to tell the target that he needs money, and fast, usually to help smooth over some mistake at work. “I lost a briefcase with company money in it, and if I don’t pay it back right away, they’re going to fire me,” is a common story, for example. Invariably, though, the son/grandson isn’t able to pick the money up in person, and says either that a coworker (actually a criminal accomplice) will meet the target somewhere to pick up the money, or tell the target a bank account number to transfer the money into.
It’s a despicable deception that preys on Japanese societal values of familial and professional responsibility, and every year Japanese seniors are defrauded out of millions and millions of yen by it. But as of this month, there’s now a way for law-abiding Japanese people to actually make money from ore ore scams instead.
On May 1, the Minami Precinct of the Aichi Prefectural Police, which serves and protects the city of Nagoya’s Minami Ward, launched a new aspect of Operation Pretend to Be Fooled. This new crime-fighting program asks people who’ve been contacted by someone claiming to be a loved one in need of cash to notify the police, then work with them to draw the scammer out. For each case in which their cooperation leads to the identification of scammers, the original target of the scam will be paid 10,000 yen.
The Aichi police crated the system following a recent increase in ore ore scams in the prefecture, though currently it’s only residents of Minami Ward that are eligible for the crime-fighting bounties, which are funded by the Nagoya Minami Ward Crime Prevention Association. A Minami Precinct spokesman said that in addition to leading to the apprehension of criminals, they hope that the program, which is being promoted with local signs and posters, will help raise awareness of ore ore scams and encourage people to be more vigilant about demanding proper identification from anyone asking for a stack of cash over the phone.
Sources: Asahi Shimbun Digital via Yahoo! Japan News via Otakomu
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