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As the coronavirus pandemic drags on, scams are being uncovered that take advantage of people's anxieties and fears. Criminals are using the vaccination rollout to try to defraud the vulnerable.
Japan's Consumer Affairs Agency reports that its offices nationwide are receiving complaints about suspicious phone calls and emails.
One example is a caller who pretends to be a municipal government official and says: "You can get a vaccine. Pay 100,000 yen ($915) to the designated bank account right now. The money will be returned later."
The National Consumer Affairs Center received a report from a victim who received a message on their phone that linked to a web address. The text purported to be from Japan's consumer affairs minister and promised "You can get vaccine priority."
The Consumer Affairs Agency and other authorities advise that municipal governments will not ask for payment or personal information by phone or email in relation to the coronavirus vaccination.
Consumer centers are also receiving reports about calls and emails that use cash handouts and financial assistance to try to extract personal information.
The National Consumer Affairs Center offers free phone advice. It warns that coronavirus scams could be on the rise. They have set up the following hotline for vaccine-related issues.
0120-797-188 (Japanese only)
Every day: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Multilingual phone service
The health ministry also has a hotline: 0120-565653
Consultations are available in Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; in Thai daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and in Vietnamese daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
This information is accurate as of March 17, 2021.