Tax, pension refund scams proliferating rapidly: NPA
The public is being preyed upon by new swindlers claiming to be tax or pension officials who dupe their victims by asking them to electronically transfer money to them, according to a National Police Agency report.
The report, a copy of which was obtained by Kyodo News, said it logged 1,664 cases of "refund fraud" between June 2006 and August 2007 that caused total damages of about \1.82 billion.
The scammers are clever, too. Only two individuals linked to one case have been rounded up so far.
The scam typically involves someone posing as a tax or Social Insurance Agency official. The poser calls the victim and claims he or she is in line for a refund.
The caller then instructs the victim to go to a bank or a convenience store and tells the victim by mobile phone how to operate the ATM there. If the money is quickly transferred to the designated bank account, the victim is told, there will be a refund later, police officials said.
But the refund never arrives.
This new form of phone fraud is different from the usual "furikome" (bank transfer) fraud. The new kind mainly targets elderly people, and police suspect that a single group of swindlers ― possibly linked to a crime syndicate ― is behind them.
The agency has categorized "furikome" fraud into three types ― "ore ore" (It's me, it's me) fraud, billing fraud and loan guarantee fraud. The refund fraud matches none of these, the officials said.
The first case of refund fraud was confirmed in June 2006, they said.
During 2006, the number of refund frauds came to 487, with total damages of about \512 million.
The Japan Times: Sunday, Oct. 21, 2007