Japan police launch nationwide 'special fraud' investigation teams

New investigation teams have been launched at police departments nationwide in Japan in a bid to facilitate a coordinated crackdown on "special fraud," which includes scams to defraud strangers via phone calls or other means.

The special teams were set up on Monday at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department and other prefectural police departments.

Teams of officials exclusively dealing with such cases were established at police departments in seven prefectures with major cities, including Tokyo. The teams will accept investigation requests from police nationwide.

The Metropolitan Police Department set up a squad of about 200 exclusive investigators.

The head of the MPD, Ogata Yoshimi, said it is difficult for a single prefectural police department to deal with special fraud cases carried out over wide areas.

He said police departments nationwide are required to enhance their cooperation to swiftly and efficiently crackdown on such crimes.

The special teams plan to conduct initial investigations including checks of security camera footage, as well as identification of suspects, at the request of local police offices.

The National Police Agency says it confirmed 19,033 cases of special fraud last year, the highest number in 15 years. The agency says the damage from such fraud amounted to more than 44.1 billion yen, or about 290 million dollars.