Japan Today



Noto earthquake brings charity fraudsters out of the woodwork


An old Japanese saying goes, Nusutto ni mo sanbun no ri (a thief never lacks for a pretext).

In this particular case, Nikkan Gendai (Jan 18) is talking about reports following the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that struck the Noto Peninsula on Ishikawa Prefecture on New Year's Day.

Some spurious Good Samaritans quickly launched fraudulent charitable scams to cheat well-meaning donors out of their money.

These practices are certainly not new, but the techniques reflect the latest scams using social networks and other wired technologies.

Rumi Iwabuchi of Tobira Systems, a company that provides countermeasures against telephone fraud, warns of spurious charitable sites.

"If you're directly approached by what appears to be a local government or an individual requesting a donation, you should consider them suspicious," Iwabuchi says.

"For example, a message might read, 'Since we didn't receive your reply, we are concerned that you might have suffered damage from the earthquake,' or 'Since you reside in Ishikawa Prefecture, we're concerned you might not be able to return home over the new year.' Or, 'Do you think you might not attend your upcoming class reunion?'"

"If you receive a text message, even if it doesn't ask for money, if you reply to it, or click on a provided URL, there's a good chance your name will wind up on a list being compiled by outfits running scams," Iwabuchi warns, adding "Whatever you do, don't accept tweets via X or other social networks at their face value. If you wish to make a donation, then protect yourself by logging onto an official site and confirming the details."

As a recent example, Nikkan Gendai displays a screen image captured from X last year showing a Japanese-language site requesting contributions to the victims of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Turkey that occurred in February 2023.

The article claims swindlers have also been at work developing ways to bilk individuals via the electronic payment service of Japan's largest mobile credit app PayPay, which is a QR code and bar code-based payment service.

On Jan 1, just hours following the quake in Ishikawa, a post appeared on X reading "Donations are being accepted toward reconstruction of Noto City, Ishikawa Prefecture. We are sending assistance to victim applicants who are victims of the tsunami."

The article notes that the term higaisha shinseisha ("victim applicants") comes across as suspiciously strange Japanese. Likewise the reference to "Noto City," which doesn't exist.

Two government agencies, the Consumer Affairs Agency and Financial Services Agency, have been on their guard against such scams.

The former agency's web site has posted examples of crooks at work, such as one in which a caller telephones and says, "We'll be sending you a famous local product from the area, so please cooperate." Another introduced himself by offering to provide free "investment tools" to donors.

The Financial Services Agency has also issued warnings of spurious activities.

"Via telephone or fax, bad actors have been at work under the guise of a "famous volunteer group,' urging transfers to a bank account with a different name from the legitimate account," a post on the agency's site read. In another, "Via SNS, donations were requested to transfer electronic currency to a mailing address that turned out not to exist."

So then, what can a person do to avoid becoming victimized?

First, if you are considering an electronic transfer to an organization introduced in the media, verify online that the account number and the number in the media correspond.

According to Ishikawa Prefecture, a total of ¥3.753 billion in donations had been received by January 11. In addition to accounts set up specifically for disaster relief, the Japan Red Cross and other organizations. In the case of donations to Suzushi and Wajima cities, the Kitaguni Bank has waived transfer fees.

In an accompanying sidebar, Nikkan Gendai provides bank names, account numbers and other details for organizations set up to accept charitable donations.

Not so much as even 1 yen should be allowed to get in the hands of these disreputable fraudsters, the article concludes.

© Japan Today

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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It is disgusting but a reality that bad people make the most of these opportunities to deceive people. It would be great if the associations of not for profit organizations create a way to validate, confirm the existence and contact details of trusted members, especially regarding donations. Using BARD, I found 4 entities:

The Japan NPO Center website: https://www.jnpoc.ne.jp/en/

The JANPORA website: https://janpora.org/english/

The JACO website: https://nippon-donation.org/

The JCIE website: https://www.jcie.or.jp/japan/

JNPOC is a national infrastructure organization that supports civic activities and promotes cross-sector collaboration. They provide resources, capacity building programs, and advocacy for NPOs in Japan.

JANPORA is a research organization that promotes the study of NPOs in Japan. They conduct research, publish reports, and host conferences on a variety of NPO-related topics.

JACO is an association of charitable organizations in Japan. They provide a platform for collaboration between NPOs and the government, and they also advocate for policies that support the NPO sector.

JCIE is an organization that promotes international exchange and cooperation. They have a particular focus on supporting NPOs that are working on international development issues.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Those are the lowest scum, worst even that those cheating on elderly over "troubled son" method or similar.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

An old Japanese saying goes, Nusutto ni mo sanbun no ri (a thief never lacks for a pretext).

If past performance is an indicator of future results, the biggest thieves of monies for the disaster will be from the "charity" everyone is compelled to pay, taxes.


As in disaster funds spent for wining, dining company execs by "officials".

If people have the time and means, volunteering is a great way to help people and show you care.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Charity fraudsters, sound like an entity claiming to be the best of humanity receiving government tax payers funds donated to prop up their evil lifestyle but proven lairs in the courts of justice. Sound familiar.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Remember being in a St Petersburg market back in late Eighties.

Clothes, including premium brands, being sold by gangsters.

All stolen from charitable donations to disaster+stricken regions.

Human nature is cruel.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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