COVID-19 Pandemic-related Crime Surges

 Since April 8, when a state of emergency was declared in seven major Japanese cities, crime and traffic accidents have declined due to fewer people being on the street. 

More people are staying put at home in accordance with the stay-at-home policy. However, the risk of fraud and cybercrime has increased. The April 29, 2020 issue of PRESIDENT Online listed five types of COVID-19 pandemic-related crimes in Japan.

 1.   Fraud

“Telephone fraud,” also known as the “ore, ore,” scam has been surging since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. A potential swindler will make a phone call to an elderly person living alone and start the conversation with “ore, ore” or “it’s me,” pretending to be the person’s son before asking for money. It is also referred to as the “bank transfer” scam.

 During the pandemic, many people have switched to shopping online, and there have been some online scams. A number of these scams involve the sale of face masks that once paid for are never delivered.

 2.   Unauthorized access and hacking

People working remotely from home face security threats, particularly as a result of unauthorized access to their PCs and subsequent virus attacks. The most serious threats are email scams, weakened security controls, and remote-working infrastructure that is not secure enough.

 Recipients of special cash payments and unemployment benefits as part of the latest government program have fallen victim to scammers and/or cyber-attacks. Wrongdoers seeking to profit from social turmoil cannot be tolerated.

 3.   Domestic violence

The pandemic has resulted in families spending more time together at home. This has raised household stress levels. Schools remain closed, so kids are at home. Families may feel crowded and frustrated that they cannot escape one another. At the same time, there are the double threats of COVID-19 itself and financial losses if a family member has been laid off. With all this, some families are likely to argue more, and the risk of domestic violence rises.


 4.   Theft

Financial problems caused by unemployment have caused incidences of theft to increase. Burglary of vacant commercial businesses is also on the rise.

 5.   Defamation

Defamation of people infected by COVID-19 has become prevalent. Celebrities who have been infected with COVID-19 may now sue their detractors if they face excessive criticism for their behavior.

 This situation is similar to that faced by Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in the USA, who face COVID-19-related hate crimes.

 Everyone must remain vigilant to protect themselves from the increased risks of fraud, theft, and cybercrime amid the coronavirus epidemic.

Posted on August 29, 2020