A Japanese woman in her 80s was tricked out of $748,000 worth of tokens by a cryptocurrency scammer who told her her bank account was under attack.
Kyodo News (via Tokyo Shimbun) reported that the woman was contacted by “a person claiming to be a ward official.” [local government] office.
According to reports from the Metropolitan Police Department’s Tamagawa Police Station, the victim is a woman in her 80s from Setagaya Ward, Tokyo.
The woman was at home in mid-November last year when she received a call on her landline, police said.
The caller, who claimed to be a local government official, told the woman:
“Your bank account is being used for crime and your funds are about to be frozen.”
The woman asked the caller what he should do if he wanted to protect his funds. The caller, the officer, went on to tell the woman:
“Withdraw money from your account before it’s too late.”
The woman then acted on the caller’s instructions, police said. Using her smartphone, she opened a wallet on a cryptocurrency exchange.
They then used their bank details to purchase approximately ¥97 million (approximately $748,000) worth of unnamed tokens through the same exchange and created a wallet password at the caller’s instructions.
The caller seems to have confirmed that they know this password. Immediately after the phone call, the virtual currency the woman had purchased “disappeared” from her wallet.
Cryptocurrency Scams Targeting Japanese Senior Citizens Increase
The police said, “We are investigating it as a special fraud case.”
Cryptocurrency scams are believed to be on the rise in Japan, increasing the number of elderly people targeted.
In 2018, an 84-year-old woman from Ashikaga, Tochigi Prefecture handed over $9,000 to a voice phishing scammer who claimed her brother had cryptocurrency-related debt.
And in 2021, a number of convenience store employees were commended by the police for intervening in crypto-related scams targeting elderly victims.