Police warn public as scammers cash in on new era name

Just one day after Japan’s new era name Reiwa was announced on April 1, the National Police Agency said that had been reports of fraud cases across Japan, in which scammers were using the new era name to con people out of money.
In one incident in Miyagi Prefecture, a woman in her 80s was swindled out of one million yen in cash, Sankei Shimbun reported. Police said the woman, who lives in Iwanuma City, received a call from a man claiming to be a city official at around 12:30 p.m. on April 1, less than one hour after the era name was announced. The man stated, “You paid too much for a previous insurance settlement. The refund procedure must be completed before the old era [Heisei] ends.” 
The targeted woman then received a phone call from a man claiming to be a bank clerk who said he needed her cash card PIN in order to transfer the refund into her bank account. Furthermore, the victim gave one of her cash cards to a man posing as a bank clerk who visited her home that same day. 
The fraud was uncovered after she consulted with an acquaintance about the incident. However, by that time, one million yen in cash had already been withdrawn from her bank account. 
In Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, a woman in her 70s received a call from a man pretending to be a city official on April 2. He told her she was eligible to be reimbursed for medical expenses. He asked her “to complete the necessary procedures before the current era changes,” which required her to give her bank account info. 
Other cases of attempted fraud were reported in Kuwana City, Mie Prefecture, in which a man called elderly people and informed them that their cash cards would not be usable after the Heisei era changes to Reiwa. Police said that none of those targeted victims fell for the scam.
Law enforcement officials are calling for vigilance against scammers taking advantage of the transition to the Reiwa era on May 1.

© Japan Today
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