Japanese police say the damage from "special frauds" reached 35.6 billion yen, or around 320 million dollars, last year. Such cases include complex schemes to swindle strangers, such as impersonating close relatives over the phone.
The National Police Agency says the total damage was down about 30 million dollars from the year before. Still, fraudsters took their victims for nearly one million dollars a day.
The number of fraud cases came to 16,493, down 1,719 from the previous year. But Tokyo and the neighboring prefectures of Saitama and Kanagawa saw the numbers rise substantially.
Senior citizens aged 65 or older accounted for 78 percent of the victims.
A record 2,747 people were arrested or questioned as suspects in such cases. Of these, the number of minors rose to 754, or 27.4 percent. That was up by 50 percent from the year before.
Police identified 61 specific locations used by fraud rings. Aside from rented apartments and offices, they included vehicles and cubicles in karaoke parlors. The police say this indicates the tactics used by fraudsters are becoming increasingly diverse.
The National Police Agency plans to intensify its crackdowns on the crime syndicates believed to be behind such fraud. It also plans to ask financial institutions to cooperate in cautioning elderly people who withdraw large sums of money.