Photographer: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

This Anti-Fraud ATM System Won't Let You Use Your Phone

  • Japan’s elderly are often conned by phone to transfer cash
  • Regional bank Joyo teaming up with Hitachi to prevent scams

Hitachi Ltd. is introducing a system to protect people from being conned into transferring money from their bank accounts at automated teller machines.

The system detects whether a user is speaking on a mobile phone while they’re at an ATM and prevents the completion of fund transfers if they are, the company said in a statement on Monday. Joyo Bank Ltd., a regional lender based in Ibaraki prefecture, north of Tokyo, aims to begin operating the system from February, it said in a separate statement.

Elderly Japanese have been the target of so-called “it’s me” telephone call scams for years. Criminal groups call pretending to be a relative in need of funds or a medical professional or tax official demanding payment. The victims are often unfamiliar with how to use the ATM fund transfers, so criminals guide them through the transaction over the phone.

“We have experienced cases of elderly customers falling victim to this kind of fraud,” said Satoshi Sasaki, a spokesman for Joyo Bank. “We discussed the issue with Hitachi and decided to implement this solution.”

Despite extensive warnings by banks and community groups, the number of such scams has climbed in each of the past six years, National Policy Agency data show. There were 8,802 cases involving 26.4 billion yen ($252 million) in the first eight months of 2016, data compiled by the National Policy Agency show.

— With assistance by Chris Cooper

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