Learn from fraudsters to avoid scams

Learn from fraudsters to avoid scams

JAPAN - With losses from various forms of fraud, including remittance fraud, expected to top the previous record of ¥40 billion (S$486 million) this year, police are trying to help people learn from "the enemy" by sharing some common techniques used by con artists.

The Metropolitan Police Department seized papers in late September with the instructions: "Don't interrupt while the other person is talking! First, carefully listen to what the target says."

The papers were found in a condominium in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, suspected to be a base for a fraud group.

Six men in their 20s and 30s were arrested on suspicion they posed as officials of a local government office who told their victims they were eligible for refunds of medical expenses and that they should go to an ATM. They reportedly talked the victims through a "refund procedure" over the phone and had them transmit money to designated accounts.

It can be quite difficult to listen to another person without interrupting him or her. People have a tendency to interject to summarize long explanations, saying such phrases as, "So, what you want to say is..."

"The instructions were placed on the desks so people making the calls could easily read them," a senior MPD official said.

"People tend to think others who carefully listen to what they say without any bias are 'good people who understand' them well," said Hiroaki Enomoto, head of the MP Ningen Kagaku Kenkyujo, which has many authors who write psychology-related books.

"People who are listened to unconditionally feel the other party 'understands them.' Once trust has been established, people will do what they're told, even if it seems a bit contradictory," Enomoto said.

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