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¥39 bil. stolen in special fraud in 2017

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A total of ¥39.03 billion was stolen in bank transfers and other special fraud in Japan last year, down ¥1.74 billion, or 4.3 percent, from 2016, police data showed Thursday.

Although the result marked the third straight year of drop, the total damage remained high, partly because the number of “it’s me” fraud cases increased again, according to the preliminary data from the National Police Agency.

The number of special fraud cases reported to police in 2017 rose 4,047 cases, or 28.6 percent, to 18,201, growing for the seventh straight year.

Of the total damage, the amount of money stolen in fictitious payment requests, including those tricking victims into paying for online services, fell 19.2 percent.

The amount of damage in cases in which victims were guided to transfer money via automated teller machines in fake procedures to receive tax or public insurance premium refunds declined 15.8 percent.

Meanwhile, damage from “it’s me” fraud, in which fraudsters approach victims by pretending to be people close to them, rose 21.7 percent to ¥20.34 billion, highest since 2004, the earliest period that the existing statistics can go back to.

As for ways perpetrators received the money, the agency data showed that ¥17.8 billion, the highest proportion, was handed directly from the victims. About ¥7.1 billion was received through bank transfer services and ¥6.9 billion through mail or other delivery services.

About ¥5.7 billion was stolen via cash cards of victims that, together with their personal identification numbers, were provided to swindlers including those pretending to be police officers. The damage jumped nearly three times from the preceding year.

Special fraud victims aged 65 or over increased 2,102 to 13,163, accounting for more than 70 percent of the total victims. The share of the age group exceeded 90 percent in “it’s me” and refund fraud cases.

The amount of damage from special fraud more than halved in five of 47 prefectures — Aomori, Yamanashi, Aichi, Kagawa and Miyazaki.

Meanwhile, both the value of damage and the number of cases increased in 16 prefectures, namely Hokkaido, Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Niigata, Shizuoka, Shiga, Kyoto, Hyogo, Wakayama, Tottori, Okayama, Fukuoka, Nagasaki and Oita.

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