Police and the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan said Thursday that bogus e-mails and telephone calls from groups claiming to be collecting donations for earthquake victims have been occurring across the country following the catastrophic series of earthquakes and the tsunami which struck the Tohoku region on March 11.
According to Yahoo! Japan, there have been several confirmed scam e-mails since March 13 claiming to be from Yahoo! inviting donations by bank transfer. A company spokesman said, "We strongly resent our name being used in this criminal activity and we have asked the police to take action. In the meantime, we would like to continue to warn people not to transfer money to bank accounts in spam e-mails. Yahoo! does not request donations in that manner."
There has been an increase in the number of spam e-mails that invite people to donate money for victim support by purchasing points. When recipients click on the link in the e-mail, they are taken to "deai" or matchmaking sites, which typically have a poor reputation in Japan and are commonly linked to advertising, scams, prostitution and pornography.
A spokesperson for the Communications Association of Japan said, "We urge people to disregard any unsolicited e-mail pertaining to earthquake relief and we want people to be aware that these e-mails are on the increase."
There has also been an increase in phishing sites that are designed to gather personal information. An anti-phishing council said that these sites have been on the increase since March 11 and often include the words "contribute" or "pray for Japan" in English. Such web pages then usually request that concerned visitors input their names and e-mail addresses.
Telephone bank transfer scams are being attempted, too, said police. In Okayama Prefecture, in the city of Tsuyama, on March 14, a woman in her 30s received a telephone call from a man claiming to be collecting money on behalf of the local government to send to affected areas. Okayama police said that was one of a number of similar calls.
A spokesperson for the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan said, "When donating money via an organization, please confirm the validity of the organization beforehand."© Compiled from news reports