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kuchikomi

'Ore-ore' and related scams become increasingly elaborate

13 Comments

“Mom, it’s me. Listen, I left my briefcase on the train. I’m calling from a colleague’s phone, so if you get a call from the station lost and found, it’s legit.”

Ten minutes later, the phone rings again. “Such-and-such Station. A briefcase has been turned in… ah, it’s yours? Your son’s? Very well. We need to confirm his identity: name? address? place of business?... Excellent, thank you, please have your son pick it up anytime.”

A few minutes later the “son” calls again. “Was there a phone call?” “Yes!” says mom, as excited and relieved as though she’d found the briefcase herself. “They’re waiting for you, you can pick it up anytime.” “Thanks mom, that’s great, whew!”

Then, a fourth call. “It’s me, mom, listen, I had a check in the bag, it’s missing, must’ve been stolen, I need that money to make a payment immediately, 3 million yen… mom, please, it’s urgent, it can’t wait, can you lend me 3 million yen? I’ll pay you back immediately, I just... Thanks mom, I knew I could count on you – listen, I’m tied up at the moment, I’ll have a colleague drop by and pick it up, okay?”

How many stories of this kind have we heard over the years? Each year for the past seven years has seen between 7,000 and 8,000 cases of the famous ore-ore scam. Ore is an informal form of the pronoun “I”. Spoken over the telephone, rapidly, in a muffled voice (easily explained by a cold or something), ore-ore implies, “Hi mom, it’s me.” Then comes a flow of feverish and desperate talk that bamboozles the listener into parting with cash to get the supposed loved one out of a dire predicament. Caller and money then vanish together into the void, the victim – almost always elderly – left to rue his or her innocence in a rapidly changing and increasingly predatory world.

It’s been around so long now – at least since 2009 – that you’d think even the most naïve would be on their guard, but techniques are growing so ingenious and sophisticated, says Shukan Josei (March 3), that it’s becoming almost impossible to distinguish sincerity from robbery.

Fraudsters attack from so many angles that it sometimes seems the only self-defense is the total closure of all means of communication with the outside world.

The doorbell rings: “Good afternoon, we’re checking houses in the neighborhood for earthquake resistance” – or water damage resistance, or whatever natural disaster has been in the news lately. “Free of charge… may we? Thank you… ah, yes, to be sure, your home is vulnerable; in an earthquake of magnitude such-and-such these pillars would buckle, this section of the foundation would crumble… Act now and benefit from our one-time-only deep discount; if you wait, you’ll end up paying twice as much.”

An email arrives: “Your use of such-and-such a website has accumulated such-and-such an amount of unpaid charges. Please settle this at your earliest convenience so that court action will not be necessary.” You might panic and send the demanded payment immediately, or you may ignore it, in which case an official-looking document may arrive snail-mail: “You are hereby notified that a civil suit has been initiated against you. If you do not respond, the required fees will be seized from your wages.” You can still ignore it, but not without a sense of entering dangerously deep waters.

Then there’s the famous appo-den fraud – appo for appointment, den for denwa, telephone – rising sharply over the past few years, says Shukan Josei.

The phone rings. “M. So-and-so? This is Such-and-Such Bank. I regret to inform you that we have reason to believe someone has accessed your account. We are therefore taking the precaution of temporarily freezing the account while we investigate the situation. Do you have a safe at home, or some other place where you can safely keep your funds?”

A fast and glib talker – you don’t go into this business if you’re not one – can easily worm the desired information out of a confused and frightened, probably elderly victim, out of touch with the rapid changes occurring in the outside world, preparatory to breaking into the house to and robbing it. It’s riskier than other methods, but it has this advantage: It gives the victim no time for second thoughts or consultation with skeptical family or friends, to say nothing of the police.

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

13 Comments
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Yakuza

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Can’t the banks trace where this money gets transferred to?

How do the scammers receive this cash and successfully launder it without a shred of evidence in this computerized day and age.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Same scams happen in the Philippines, it's called dugo-dugo. One of my relatives fell victim for this and lost thousands in US dollars. These criminals should be hired as voice actors instead, if they can convince victims, they can act. A good security measure against this is to have questions or passwords that only you can answer.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

How can a mother not recognise her own son's voice or way of speaking? Particularly over a couple of potentially lengthy phone calls (especially the one asking for the money)?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Then, a fourth call. “It’s me, mom, listen, Then, a fourth call. “It’s me, mom, listen, I had a check in the bag, it’s missing, must’ve been stolen, I need that money to make a payment immediately, 3 million yen… mom, please, it’s urgent, it can’t wait, can you lend me 3 million yen? I’ll pay you back immediately, I just... Thanks mom, I knew I could count on you – listen, I’m tied up at the moment, I’ll have a colleague drop by and pick it up, okay?” 3 million yen… mom, please, it’s urgent, it can’t wait, can you lend me 3 million yen? I’ll pay you back immediately, I just... Thanks mom, I knew I could count on you – listen, I’m tied up at the moment, I’ll have a colleague drop by and pick it up, okay?”

I can almost understand not figuring out it's not her son's voice on the phone, but not figuring out this is a scam when the guy said, "I had a check in the bag, it’s missing, must’ve been stolen, I need that money to make a payment immediately..."

A check, huh? Riiiiiiiiiiight!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

My family in the States won't even answer the phone unless the caller id is clear and they know who it is.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I've had to thoroughly educate my elderly mother about these scams.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Scams are now worldwide pandemic.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Prison isn't even an incentive for these guys. I wonder if losing their manhood would even be, but folks would say that is cruel and unusual punishment. Preying on the elderly is the lowest of the lows. SMH

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Prison isn't even an incentive for these guys.

It's meant to be an incentive, it's meant to be a disincentive.

And while I believe the intent of your post is correct - prison doesn't deter these guys - it's the people that don't do this because of the existence of the disincentive of prison that is the number to be counted. These guys are the dregs of society, the lowest of the low. Fortunately, most people aren't that low. There are some on the verge though, who will be deterred by the law.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Burning Bush: Can’t the banks trace where this money gets transferred to?

How do the scammers receive this cash and successfully launder it without a shred of evidence in this computerized day and age.

There's quite a market for what we might call secondhand bank accounts these days. Basically, some students and temporary workers and trainees are given a generous amount of money to hand over their bankbooks before they leave Japan for good, and these accounts are used to launder money. Students etc. are supposed to close their account before they leave Japan, but some just...don't.

There are laws and guidelines in place for banks etc to report suspicious transactions to the police, with an unofficial focus on accounts owned by temporary residents from certain countries. But it's an uphill battle.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Toshiro

No, I think we should keep jailing them. They are not talented or special. For every scam that works theres 10 that don’t.

They prey on the elderly and senile. Voice acting?? Really?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“You are hereby notified that a civil suit has been initiated against you. If you do not respond, the required fees will be seized from your wages.” 

Just in case anyone is wondering, this isn't possible. In order for one's assets to be seized, an asset seizure, or kyousei shikkou must first be done. And this can only be done after you win the court case.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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