Recently, Larry MacDonald posted an article about credit card fraud in the States. In that situation people’s cards were being charged a small amount ($0.20 or $9, apparently) though they had no idea what the charge was for. Presumably, many people just thought it a small amount of money so never looked into it. The groups behind the theft, however, pulled in about $10 million.
The Japan Times recently reported of another type of scam that is targeting foreigners here. In this case, credit card information would be stolen at a bar, and then massive amounts are charged to the card. The reason foreigners are being targeted seems to be similar to the reason small charges are being billed in the States – there is a good chance that it won’t be challenged, or that it will be too late by the time it is realized.
Foreigners in Japan could be made up of one of two groups: people who live here or people who are on vacation here. In either case, there is a chance that the victim cannot fully communicate in Japanese, and would therefore have trouble explaining the situation to the police or in court. In the case of vacationers, they may be half the globe away by the time they realize there is a remarkable charge on their card.
The situation in the Times tells of an Italian man who lives in Tokyo. He spent about $60 at a bar, his card was returned, and then a $4000 charge from a restaurant appeared a couple of weeks later. The bar in question has since disappeared, it seems.
Luckily the victim not only lives in Japan, but can speak Japanese. Because of that he was able to notify police and win his court battle against the restaurant and credit card company.
Japan is generally a safe place to live, but it is certainly not lacking in scammers.