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Net banking scams seen on the rise in Japan
Publication Date : 11-02-2013
The National Police Agency reported an increasing number of sophisticated computer-based scams in which culprits steal money from victims' online accounts through the use of fake web portals for major banks.
About 48 million yen was transferred from the accounts of 63 Internet banking users without their knowledge from June to December. In January, 22 million yen was similarly stolen from the accounts of 20 users, the NPA said.
In the scams, users are often tricked into accessing a fake portal site that appears to be the authentic site of a major bank. They are then asked to enter their personal information, including passwords.
The victims were customers of five major financial institutions, including Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. and Mizuho Bank, according to the NPA.
Of the 63 victims across 16 prefectures last year, 48 received a fake e-mail from a major bank. The fake e-mail requested that the user take security and other preventive measures. However, when the users visited the URL enclosed, a fake data entry screen appeared.
In November and December, the scams employed a fake page whose background and layout were identical to the authentic site of a major bank. When users accessed the page, they were led to a data entry screen, according to the NPA.
Another scam involves the use of a computer virus. Seven of the victims last year entered an authentic banking site. But because their computers had been infected with viruses, a fake data entry screen appeared. The NPA and other authorities believe such viruses were also used in some cases this year.
Leading antivirus software programs are designed to protect computers from viruses confirmed last year. A NPA official said, "You can protect yourself by updating antivirus software frequently." The NPA also recommends that Internet banking users confirm the e-mail addresses of senders.
In a fake screen, users are sometimes asked to enter their personal identification numbers in their entirety. According to the NPA, however, banks never make such a request.
The NPA recommends that people make bank inquiries by telephone or at a teller when in doubt.