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    Criminal resourcefulness

    Darn. NHK just had a lengthy report today on a big-time victim of the newest variety of the “Pay up!” scam, and I was all excited to write about it–but, of course, the Mainichi English edition, which can be relied upon to report the latest scumbag-related news the minute it hits the airwaves, got there first:

    Four people who apparently made 100 million yen carrying out a scam centering on people’s fears of a relative being arrested for groping female train commuters were arrested in Tokyo, police said on Monday.

    Police said the specific case for which Mitsuyama and his co-conspirators were arrested involved a call made in March to a 56-year-old Kawasaki woman.

    Mitsuyama claimed to be a lawyer acting on behalf of the woman’s husband and said her husband used his mobile phone to take racy pictures, police said, adding that Mitsuyama had threatened to contact the media if the woman did not obey his demands for money.

    Eventually, the suspects forced the woman to transfer 3.5 million yen into an account they had designated, police said.

    Claiming to be seeking hush money to cover-up a relative’s arrest for groping female train commuters has become a popular type of fraud in recent weeks, police said.

    Since the recent introduction of women’s only trains in Tokyo and a crackdown on train perverts last month to coincide with the change, the number of victims falling for the scam has increased, with about 80 reported cases in Tokyo during May alone.

    The ease with which women are prepared to believe their husbands were groping random women on trains is its own commentary. However, those who collect Japanese compounds will love this new one, which is the way NHK labeled the swindle (I’d just seen it explained piecemeal in sentences before): 痴漢示談金振り込め詐欺 (chikan-jidankin-furikome-sagi: “the [out-of-court] settlement-for-groping ‘Pay up!’ scam”). Were it not for that native Japanese verb in the middle, it would be a marvel of 漢語 dementia.

    In other exciting news, Atsushi’s parents received a “Pay up!” call last week, but the story they were given was nothing exciting–the story was just a dumb old car accident, if I recall correctly. They’re savvy people and didn’t pay, fortunately. I did get a kick out of imagining some con artist’s possibly trying to impersonate Atsushi by calling his parents and greeting them with “オレ、オレ!” (ore-ore: “It’s me, it’s me!”), which was the original version of the scam. Having heard his end of four years of phone calls to the parents, I can attest that he always announces himself with a warm but respectful “Hello, this is Atsu.”

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