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Woman conned out of nearly Y4.5 mil in bank transfer scam


A woman in her 70s was conned out of nearly 4.5 million yen by a bank transfer scammer, or a team of scammers, posing as her grandson and a credit card company representative, police said Thursday.

A man allegedly telephoned the woman, a resident of Nagoya, on Monday at around 8 p.m. posing as her grandson to tell her that he had changed his cell phone number, TBS quoted police as saying.

A second call came on Tuesday at around 9:30 a.m. from a man posing as a credit card company representative. According to police, the man told the woman that her grandson owed 2 million yen and that payment was due before the end of the day. He then asked her to contact her grandson immediately to verify it.

Police say the woman then called the false number she had been given the day before. The man posing as her grandson verified the claim and requested that she make a series of money transfers via a local shopping center ATM machine. The woman proceeded to make five transfers over the next two days, totaling 4.499 million yen, TBS reported.

According to a police spokesperson, after the last transfer was complete, she contacted her son, at which point the family realized she had been tricked.

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Call your son FIRST. What a dope.

6 ( +10 / -3 )

These sneaky dudes need to be wiped out.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

According to a police spokesperson, after the last transfer was complete, she contacted her son, at which point the family realized she had been tricked.

"after the last transfer was complete...police should refuse to file a case, reason? : Complaint Coming Too Late !

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Another senior robbed of her dough....Doh !

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

See, the Nigerian scammers have it all wrong. Rather than email westerners while posing as African royalty, all they had to do was pose as family and contact the Japanese...

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Call your son FIRST

I agree. Its so easy to verify this. Call the grandson! Or simply ask what his name is or specific details about him or his wife etc.

me: "I heard you were in a motorcycle accident last month and had to be hospitalized. Are you okay with the hospital bill?'

perpetrator: Yeah, I need an extra mil for that too

me: Sure. except my grandson was here last month and he doesn't ride a motorcycle. nice try (hang up, call police)

4 ( +5 / -1 )

According to police, the man told the woman that her grandson owed 2 million yen and that payment was due before the end of the day.

She simply should have told the credit card company that the grandson is an adult, and he needs to take care of his responsibility. She should have told the "scammer grandson" that you're a man, and you need to "man-up" and pay your obligations. I take it that the grandson probably doesn't call grandma much.

Even calling from Japan to a very small town in America, and when my grandmother was in her 80's and she could still recognize my voice from her other grandkids. I guess there probably weren't close family ties in this case.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Even if it really was her grandson, she shouldn't be paying off his debt. He needs to take responsibility for his own finances.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Y4.5 mil is a lot of money to loose in hard times like now. Happy

-2 ( +1 / -2 )

Not only in Japan... Naive people everywhere... its just that in Japan many of them are sitting on a lot of cash. My wife and were taling about this same problem the other day. Her parents are elderly Japanese and we agreed to speak with them and tell them that under no circumstance should they ever send money to anyone in the family unless they speak with us first.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

For me. every time I call my 85 year old grandmother, I have a bad habit of saying "it's me"...but she's very wise and knows what's up so she always responds "who the hell are you?" LOL....and its only after I start giving details about me, my family or things, she'll start trusting that I am who I say I am.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Common sense is not so common....

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Really everybody....the 'only in Japan' comments just show how narrow-minded people can be. Why not try to look something up? I suppose though, that the 'only in Japan' and 'those stupid Japanese' type comments so rife on this board make you feel like your home country is superior or something, but you just look extremely uninformed.

4 ( +7 / -4 )

That's an older example but you can find many more recent ones. Like in Japan, they use multiple people and recorded backgrounds to make the call seem real. Recorded background (people bustling around a police station, or sirens at an accident scene) also help cover differences in the voices. They also switch the phone back and forth between the people playing the different parts really quickly and don't give the elderly time to think .

2 ( +4 / -2 )


0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Himanjin: It was only Marcels that said anything so don't lump us all in with him. One person does not make "everybody".

3 ( +3 / -0 )

its only after I start giving details about me, my family or things, she'll start trusting that I am who I say I am.

...and that's when you ask her for money?


(Sorry, couldn't resist...)

Had a phone call from worried Son just last week, saying the parents of one of his workmates had just fallen for this kind of scam and assuring us that under no circumstances would he ever come asking us for money and we should refuse any pleas over the phone because it wouldn't be him. I assured him that we had no money to give him anyway.

The scammers are actually very savvy (the successful ones, at least.) They showed on telly how a person (who knew he was taking part in a programme about scamming) could be persuaded that his partner had caused a traffic accident and needed a large sum of money immediately to pay the insurance. He started off totally skeptical and ended up ready to rush to the bank.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

That's a lot of money. You've got to remember that not all old folk have their wits about them and they come from a different generation where this kind of crime wasn't as prevalent. That might be where naivity steps in. Having set that, some of my obaachan neighbours are sharper than an arrow. Not all though.

Last year, the police in our area launched a huge campaign warning about this kind of scam. Claim to fame, I was stopped on the street and a rather gorgeous police officer ran me through the dangers, as a TV crew filmed us! I think the families themselves have to talk about this and warn their elderly relatives about this. Some conmen can be very convincing.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

CLASSIC.... May I say that this is ONLY possible in Japan because in the US this would NOT happen. Old folks don't have that much money laying around. Not to mention the willingness to transfer that kind of cash. If it were my folks they'd say "well I guess my son has got himself in pickle, why don't you call him instead?" my mom is not a dope. She would contact my dad first and then my sister to straighten this thing out.

Police should trace the phone number to the owner and follow it from there, not to mention the person receiving the money. And the history of the phone number and the calls it has made from there. After that the cons will be caught. There is a bad side to this, the money will probably be returned though. Poor lady... next time read the signs at the ATMs and banks. "BEFORE SENDING MONEY, MAKE SURE YOU ARE SENDING IT TO THE RIGHT PERSON"

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Several days ago, I got an email from a friend's cellphone with pictures of a bandaged-up person, and the message stating that he fell off the roof while clearing snow, and needs to borrow some money.

I got suspicious right away. I called my friend's landline number, and told him to contact his mobile provider and police.

They didn't get the perp, but we found out that my friend was dead drunk last weekend, and lost his phone somewhere, but didn't report it because it may just have been misplaced.

How did I know it wasn't my friend? The pictures showed a banged-up guy with blonde hair ... my friend had black hair .

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Many elderly people seem to be very naive or too honest to strangers. I've heard about similar cases many times in Japan. They really need to suspect people about money things. If she made a phone call to confirm her grandson before payment done, she would not pay to scammers.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Crafty yakuza.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

This is just getting sad. Why did she wait until after to call? Also, why would she just give money like that, even if it is your grandson, its his parents responsibility first. Even if it was real my Grandma she would have scolded me soooooo bad about my credit problems and then she would make me lie in the bed i made as a punishment. I mean he is not going to go to prison for $2M credit debt.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A fool and his, in this case her, money are soon parted.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I still don't understand why she transferred 4.5 million yen when the debt was only 2 million yen... Sounds like these fraudsters really lucked out and realized that they had a HUGE sucker on the other end of the phone.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Common sense is not very common.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

My opinion is that exactly this case is very "Japanese" ! Everybody is asking why she waited till after the last transfer. Simply because of the Japanese habit to keep everything under the rug. She probably thought she would help her dear grandson and he would be in trouble if his father knew. Its a mess as some people note there is no strong connection in the family for such things to happen. But and in the same time exactly because of the strong family bonds obaa-chan feels responsible to help out and not to do how most western grandma would do! Go figure ? (I guess scammers have figured it out).

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Thank you for playing our game, gramma!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What you're saying, bogva, is that these scams work (when they work) in Japan because they prey on folk's (misguided) desire to help their family.

Compare that to the Nigerian scam, international lottery scam, etc (which must be working somewhere, otherwise they'd have given up by now surely) that seems to work (when it works) by preying on folk's blind greed to get something for nothing.

0 ( +2 / -3 )

Good, maybe she'll learn something from her foolishness.

0 ( +2 / -2 )


I would like to say that this certain case of swindling is not restricted to Japan alone.

If you would look at Western Union, an international money transfer company, has Anti fraud warnings on their websites for all languages (well, all languages I could read, that is). If you would look at the warnings, the cases brought up can be called similar to the one reported above.

Also, in your arguement:

he would be in trouble if his father knew

Is this restricted for Japanese only? No. My dad would certainly beat me to a pulp if he knew I was in trouble for my debts, and asking them for help ... and he has no Japanese blood in him, but some relatives may be more approachable.

Which means that this case is not "very Japanese" in nature.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I am kind of surprised to hear all these people calling a 70 year old woman an "idiot" or "fool". As one gets older, one tends to be a bit less observant and that is what these crooks were counting on.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It was only Marcels that said anything so don't lump us all in with him. One person does not make "everybody.

As I said 'that are rife on this board', meaning not only this thread. A day when such a comment is not made is rare.

CLASSIC.... May I say that this is ONLY possible in Japan because in the US this would NOT happen. Old folks don't have that much money laying around.

Do you mean the scam itself could only happen here, or that amount of money? This is happening in the US, it's called the 'Family Member Impersonation Scam'. You can see several examples from the US, in the link I posted. The amounts in the US cases are less, the highest amount I've seen mentioned is two or three thousand dollars.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

What is it with the Japan-haters on this website? These scammers are clever and do research before they call people. They don't dial random phone numbers, they target older people who may live by themselves. And for every time they're successful they fail many other times. There's no reason to think Japanese people are more gullible than anyone else.

Also, the Nigerian scams prove people living elsewhere in the world are probably more stupid. Everyone should know by now that if you get an email offering you something for nothing, it's a scam. Yet they go for it anyway. On the other hand you really might get a loved one calling you in an emergency asking for help.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Can anyone answer a question about this type of scam? The elderly are asked to transfer money out of their accounts. Can't the receiving bank accounts be traced? Considering the amount of information required to open an account, it should provide some leads even it is closed and drained.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They're opened with fake names and seals, and closed right after the scam, by the time people realize they were duped it's too late. You can register any seal as your official banking seal, it needn't be your jistuin.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@ Himajin. Not everyone here is saying it's about Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

What's the word I'm after......Mmmmmm Dunce!! Damn she shoulda known better! And who doesn't know the sound of their own grnadson's voice disgraceful! But a nice little earn for these dirty dogs who I rate on the same level as child molesters! Catch em and whipem!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Reminds me of the Japanese drama 'Kurosagi' about scam artists in Japan http://jdorama.com/drama.1008.htm

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Samantha, some comments have been deleted by the mods...one in caps saying it could only happen in Japan because the Japanese are naive. I was answering 2-3 comments saying that only the Japanese could be stupid enough to fall for this, a couple of them quite ranty.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

bahahahahahahahah.......WTF, LMFAO!!!!

How about saying, "ok grandson, come over now, we'll talk about it and call the credit card company to work out some kind of repayment system". Or call the SON right away and give him an earfull for letting HIS son run up such a bill. I'm sorry, but as my US NAVY friend said ( I am ex-USMC), "a fool and her money are damn well soon parted"!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

these people never learn. Serves her right.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

LoveNot: what a pleasant sentiment. Someone who is trusting, elderly, with a desire to help gets scammed by people taking advantage of her generous nature. You seem to think that trust is a virtue worthy of punishment. I think it is tragic that we have to assume ulterior motives.

Scams that take advantage of generosity are everywhere. In London in summer you get the charity scam - pretty girl turns up with a collecting tin at a pub for some made up charity, probably for disabled children. The drinkers are a bit merry and are happy to donate. They take a huge amount of money and most people never know they have been scammed - even those I have told refuse to believe at first.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This type of crime's been around in Japanese for quite a while now. We see on TV, newspapers, ATM walls about the newest tactics used and how not to get conned, but the scammers r getting ever more skillful. It's sad to say but old people will continue to be targeted at. I imagined how this lady spent the two days in panic and worry, making the trips to the adressed ATM....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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