April 9, 2019
Tokyo--Scams capitalizing on the change of era, from Heisei to Reiwa, which takes place upon the May 1 Imperial transition, have been seen across Japan.
The National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan warns of such "era change scams," in which scammers send letters in the name of real organizations telling recipients that their bank cash cards need to be renewed because of the change of era, as a way to obtain their cards.
In some cases, perpetrators actually withdrew money with obtained cards.
In early February, a 79-year-old woman in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, southern Japan, received an envelope saying it was from the Japanese Bankers Association, or Zenginkyo, a bankers' organization that does exist in Tokyo.
Enclosed were several sheets of supposed paperwork that needed to be filled because of the change of era.
Believing what was claimed, she put the name of her bank, the passcode of her cash card and some other information in the form and sent it back in the provided envelope.
Early last month, she learned about era change scams from news reports and realized what had happened to her.
Fortunately, she escaped real damage because she did not send her cash card.
"She told me that she put the envelope in the mailbox without any doubts," her 43-year-old son said. "She did not notice that she had been cheated."
Last month, the Kanagawa prefectural police arrested a man who attempted to defraud people of their cash cards by sending letters for era change scams.
In Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo, in February, some 860,000 yen was withdrawn from deposits in a bank account of a woman in her 70s.
She had received a call from a person who told her that she needed to renew her bank cards due to the change of era in order to get a refund. She then handed two cash cards to a man who visited her home.
According to the consumer affairs center, consumers are seeking advice on problems related to the change of era. Many of those who fall for suspicious claims are 60 or older, according to the center.
In one case, a consumer was made to buy an expensive book of photographs of the Imperial Family, the center said.
An official of the center said it is important not to give answers during calls from telemarketers. The official also said that banks will not ask customers to renew their cards because of the era change, urging consumers not to respond to any such fake notices. Jiji Press
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