Over the last 6 months or so, the “it’s me” telephone scam has become more and more common in Japan. And buoyed by their success, its perpetrators increasingly audacious.
The con is a fraudulent technique were unscrupulous individuals pretend to be the child or grandchild of the person they call. They then make up a false situation, and attempt to extort money from the unsuspecting victim.
A much-favoured method is to claim there has been a car accident, and that they urgently need some money (deposited into a specified bank account) in order to pay off an injured motorist or pedestrian. As preposterous as this sounds, and the fact you’d assume the victims would recognize that the voice on the telephone didn’t belong to their child/grandchild, it’s obviously a good money-spinner. As judging by news reports, it would appear that this technique swindles at least one person every week.
And we aren’t talking small amounts of cash here either. Generally it’s in the millions rather than thousands, and the more gullible victims have been stung two or three times by the same person, as the accident/incident is further exaggerated, thus requiring more money to settle matters.
But yesterday a woman in her 40’s got swindled in perhaps the most daring “it’s me” scam to date. The naïve lady got a call from her son who is a member of the Japanese Self-Defense Force (SDF). With the man claiming that, “I was driving a tank and crashed into an SDF facility wall. I want you to deposit over 1 million yen into my account today to pay for it.”
Yes, you read that right. He’d supposedly crashed his tank, and he had to pay for the damages! Yet however unbelievable that sounds, the woman promptly paid the money, no questions asked.
Police investigators were unsurprisingly shocked by the crime. Presumably at both the boldness of the criminals involved, and the gullible nature of the duped mother. One official rather understatedly said, “We’ve never heard of fraud saying that a self-defense official has crashed a tank.”
No, I bet they haven’t.