B: It’s me!
A: Takeshi? Is that you? What’s wrong with your voice?
B: I’ve got a cold. Listen, I need a really big favour…
“Ore Ore” sagi (“It’s me!” scams) are a well known confidence trick in Japan.
A fraudster calls a house. If the voice on the end of the phone sounds like it belongs to someone elderly or otherwise exploitable, he says “Ore! Ore!” (“It’s me!”). If he’s lucky, the victim will mistake him for a son/nephew/grandson, and say “Is that Hideo” (or similar), and his trap is set.
In most cases, the voice will be different from the one they’re expecting. If the victim seems uncertain, “Hideo” can invent a cold or flu to explain the change in his voice.
Next, the scamster adds the bait. “Hideo” has gotten himself into terrible trouble (like accidentally shunting someone’s Porsche, or being threatened by the yakuza), and owes a lot of money. The aim of this drama is to panick the bewildered victim into transferring money immediately to an account owned by him, after which, they never hear from him again, and the truth emerges.
At their peak, these kind of scams fooled thousands of gullible unfortunates every year, earning billions of yen. Media coverage has increased public caution, but also given increasing numbers of dishonest types the inspiration to try it out. There’s also more innovation – a complex ore ore scam might involve a number of fraudsters acting different roles and sharing the profits.
- Japan Behind the Scenes: “Ore, Ore” Fraud Increasing (Hiragana Times)
“According to a recent TV station poll, three out of ten people surveyed said they had either been a victim or knew a victim.”
- Phone Fraud Fleeces the Unsuspecting (Sake Drenched Postcards)
“It’s a story that’ll make you think twice before answering that next phone call.”
- Ore Ore Fraud. Why ore ore? (Watashi to Tokyo)
“When we say “Ore” in Japanese, it is not a metal-bearing mineral. It is a informal word for a guy referring to himself.”
- Osaka has lower Ore Ore Fraud damage (Watashi to Tokyo)
“They say one reason might be that the members of these crime groups cannot speak the Osaka dialect”