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Phishing scams in Japan surge 4-fold in 2020 amid epidemic

  • March 22, 2021
  • , Jiji Press , 1:15 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, March 22 (Jiji Press)–The total number of reported cases of phishing scams in Japan soared fourfold from the previous year to 224,676 in 2020, a private organization report showed Monday.


The surge apparently reflected an increase in the use of online shopping as people refrained from going out amid the novel coronavirus crisis.


In a phishing scam, an email or short message impersonating one from a real company is sent to individuals in an attempt to lead them to a fake website and steal identifications and passwords.


In some cases, the stolen information was used for deposit theft. The Council of Anti-Phishing Japan is calling on people to “use legitimate website and app information saved beforehand, instead of logging in from the URLs indicated in emails.”


The council counts the monthly number of phishing cases mainly through businesses that receive inquiries from individuals who have received suspicious emails. In 2019, the council received a total of 55,787 reports of phishing scams.


In 2020, the number remained on a rising trend throughout the year, exceeding 10,000 in April and reaching 32,171 in December.


The monthly tally reached a record 43,972 in January this year. The number dropped to 30,949 in February, but the combined figure for the two months exceeded the annual total for 2019 by more than 19,000.


In February, 60 percent of the phishing cases made fraudulent use of the name of U.S. online shopping giant Amazon. The name of Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc. <4755> was also used in many cases.


In addition to emails and other messages pretending to be from credit card companies and parcel delivery businesses, those purporting to be from crypto asset exchangers were reported.


The council also found many cases in which legitimate sender addresses are shown in emails to mislead recipients.


“The spam filter function is effective” in preventing scams, the council said.

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