Assumption that man on the phone was her son costs senior citizen a gigantic fortune.

The “ore ore” scam is one of the oldest tricks in the Japanese fraudster’s playbook, which takes its name from the masculine way of saying “me” in Japanese. The con artist calls the target on the phone and instead of giving his name simply says “It’s me,” hoping that the target will assume it’s their son, grandson, or some other male acquaintance who’s in trouble, and will supply the necessary cash to get them out of the non-existent jam, with the false promise of reimbursing them once they’ve gotten the situation sorted out acting as extra leverage.

The latest victim of such a scheme is an 84-year-old woman living in Tokyo’s Itabashi Ward, who was contacted on May 31 by a man who, during the mid-point of the conversation, claimed to be her eldest son. He explained that he’d misplaced a briefcase with an important work-related contract in it, and that he needed some money to make amends. He then sent another man claiming to be the woman’s son’s coworker to pick up two cash payments from her.

So far, this is all pretty standard “ore ore” scam stuff, though going back for a second cash score from the same mark is a pretty bold move. But what really makes this case stand out is the amount the woman was cheated out of, as the two bundles of cash she handed over totaled 82.5 million yen (US$757,000).

Unfortunately, the woman didn’t become suspicious until after handing over the second payment and parting ways with the “coworker,” She then called the man who’d claimed to be her son back and asked him what his grandparents’ names were, and it was only when he was unable to answer that she finally understood that she’d been bilked out of a fortune.

The police are now looking for the scam artists (or artist, as it’s unclear if the man who received the money is the same person as the man who called her), though no concrete leads have been announced. Hopefully they’ll be caught eventually, but in the meantime, let this serve as an example that as safe as Japan is, there are criminals here as well, and you should never hand over money, especially 80-plus million yen’s worth, to someone who only identifies himself as “me.”

Source: TBS News via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he has to admit that “ore” is his usual pronoun for referring to himself in Japanese.