Japanese police create fake support scam payment cards to warn victims

Older man looking at prepaid cards
Image: AI-generated via Midjourney

Japanese police placed fake payment cards in convenience stores to protect the elderly targeted by tech support scams or unpaid money fraud.

The cards are labeled “Virus Trojan Horse Removal Payment Card” and “Unpaid Bill Late Fee Payment Card,” and were created by the Echizen Police in the Fukui prefecture in Japan as an alert mechanism.

Their purpose is to warn elder victims seeking payment cards at the instructions of fraudsters.

The Fukui prefecture suffered around $7.5 million in financial losses last year due to various forms of online fraud. In January 2024, there were 14 complaints regarding investment scams, with an estimated damage of $700,000.

By placing the dummy cards in the electronic money sections of 34 local convenience stores, the Echizen Police have been testing a new method to fight tech support scams.

Store employees have been briefed about the purpose of the dummy cards, and when customers attempt to purchase them, they explain to the purchaser that they had been targeted in a scam.

As the police department rewards employees who assist in the program, law enforcement can also identify victims and further investigate the scams.

Local media outlet Fukuishimbun reports that since late November 2023, the concept has already helped at least two older men who were deceived into thinking their computers had been infected with malware and were tricked into paying a fee for cleaning the systems.

Due to the specific messages on them, victims are likely to pick them up, believing that they are prepaid cards that could help them solve the issue presented by the scammer.

One convenience store employee, Yayoi Tanaka, who helped one of the two people from being scammed, said that the dummy cards make it easier to explain to people buying them that they had been deceived.

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