Overall crime in Japan is down, but phone scams are on the rise

A Japanese government crime report says more needs to be done to tackle phone scams and other schemes that defrauded people of nearly $ 250 million last year.

This year’s white paper on crime was submitted to a Cabinet meeting on Friday. It says police dealt with around 614,000 criminal offenses in 2020, the lowest post-war figure.

But cybercrime cases, including online fraud and child prostitution, increased for the fourth year in a row to around 8,700.

The report says there have been around 7,400 cases of fraud, the highest number since 2004. The cases included phone scams, in which crooks trick people into transferring their money.
About 15 percent of all crooks were members of crime syndicates.

About 70 percent were under 30 years old. About 85 percent of the victims were 65 years of age or older. Total losses amounted to about 28.5 billion yen, or about $ 250 million.

The report highlights the need for government and the private sector, including financial institutions, to work together to tackle crime.

The number of criminal incidents handled by the police had fallen by an average of 9.2% year-on-year in the five years to 2019. Last year’s figure was down more sharply, down 17.9 %.

The Justice Department believes the coronavirus pandemic may have caused the decline.

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